Albertson's Incorporated Refrigerated Distribution - Executive Summary
Albertson's, Inc. ("Albertson's") is a diversified retailer of grocery products throughout the United States. Albertson's operates many retail grocery stores throughout the South that are supplied through a distribution and transportation complex located in Katy, Texas. The Albertson's distribution operation employs more than 350 people. The Albertson's Refrigerated Distribution Center, located on this facility site, uses anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration of the products in storage. Anhydrous ammonia is subject to EPA regulation under 40 CFR 68, Accidental Release Risk Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals. |
Pursuant to the RMP regulations (40 CFR 68) and the Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations, Albertson's has developed a comprehensive PSM written program to protect our employees and the surrounding community from exposure to the hazardous chemicals onsite. The facility completed a process hazards analysis (PHA) for ammonia using the industry standard What-If?/Checklist
Analysis developed through the International Institute for Ammonia Refrigeration. The PHA was completed using technical and operations staff from the Katy facility as well as experienced facilitators from an outside engineering firm.
Albertson's implementation of the PSM program includes employee education in the hazards of ammonia and measures that can be used to reduce employee and community exposure to accidental releases of ammonia. The plans include preventive maintenance programs (mechanical integrity) for the ammonia system, and a program for both pre-startup safety reviews and management of changes (MOC) to this system. The program also includes specific requirements for safe work practices (such as safe approaches to welding and similar hot work) and safety requirements for contractors who may be hired to work on the system.
Lastly, the PSM written program incorporates the Albertson's distribution center's emergency response plan and places special emphasis on handling accid
ental releases of hazardous chemicals and coordination of emergency response with local fire departments and other emergency response organizations.
As part of the RMP requirements, Albertson's undertook a review of the potential offsite consequences of the accidental releases of the largest vessels in the system. Although such a release is highly unlikely, the regulation requires this review. The following is a description of the results:
Albertson's stores and uses anhydrous ammonia on site for refrigeration of products in storage. Ammonia is used for its excellent energy efficiency and flexibility, in addition to benefits to employee safety. Ammonia at the facility is kept entirely within the refrigeration system, much as the refrigerant in your car air-conditioner. The Albertson's Katy distribution center has never experienced a release of ammonia involving consequences that affected residents or the environment.
The worst case scenario was assumed to
be the release of the entire contents of the 36,300-pound capacity of the high-pressure receiver which is located indoors. The analysis of this release indicates that a potential exposure of an area approximately 2.2 miles in diameter (distance to endpoint of 1.1 miles) would result. The total population within the potential exposure area is estimated to be 5,241.
In determining the alternate case scenario for ammonia, Albertson's analyzed incidents occurring at other refrigeration facilities and the results of the internal process hazards analysis (PHA). The scenario chosen for the ammonia system assumes a =" hole in a liquid return pipe from the outside condensers. Such a release would affect an area of 0.34 miles (0.17 miles to the toxic endpoint) and create the potential to affect approximately 41 persons. Residences are located within this area.
Albertson's is committed to minimizing accidental releases of ammonia from the refrigeration process at the Katy distribution center
. Facility management is involved in the design, operation, and maintenance of the system. Albertson's employees at all levels have been involved in the development of the PSM and RMP programs. Management has committed to working with local agencies and the community to educate the public regarding the hazards of ammonia and to ensure a safe workplace and surrounding community. Specific questions regarding RMP compliance at Albertson's should be addressed to the Distribution Center General Manager.