The Environmental Protection Agency has levied six-figure fines against two Yakima County cold-storage enterprises for missing the annual deadline for filing two-page forms reporting that their facilities store anhydrous ammonia.
Stadelman Fruit LLC was fined $238,875, while Hollingbery and Sons Inc. and the related Hollingbery CA and Cold Storage LLC were penalized a total of $118,200.
The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act requires companies that store hazardous chemicals to submit the forms, mostly a checklist, by March 1 to state and local emergency planners, and the local fire department.
Bud Hollingbery, president of the Hollingbery companies, said Friday his businesses have been sending in the information for years. In 2020, the employee who files the forms had a family emergency, and the forms weren’t submitted until May 12, he said.
By then, according to EPA, the Hollingbery companies had committed 12 violations — three late forms for four cold-storage facilities in Yakima.
The maximum potential fine for each violation was $59,017, for a total of $708,204 for the 12.
Bud Hollingbery said he spent about $12,000 on an attorney to negotiate a smaller fine, but didn’t admit to any of the allegations.
“The amount of money we would have had to spend (in court) would have been prohibitive, and we’d still have been at risk, that’s why we quit,” he said. “You argue it down as much as you can and pay. It leaves a really bad taste in your mouth.
“The fine was not commensurate with the infraction,” Bud Hollingbery said. “This didn’t impact the risk to the community at all. The only impact was that the paperwork was late.”
Stadelman Fruit also was fined for missing the March 1, 2020, reporting deadline for its four cold-storage facilities in Zillah. Stadelman agreed to settle, but also did not admit to the allegations. Efforts to obtain comment from the company Friday were unsuccessful.
The EPA announced the fines in a press release. “Zillah and Yakima families deserve better protection from chemical hazards,” the agency stated.
Congress passed the Right-To-Know Act in 1986, two years after a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, killed thousands.