Tyson pays more than $4 million to settle gas exposure suit

Several employees were injured when anhydrous ammonia accidentally leaked into facilities

One of the world’s largest meat processers said it will hand over a chunk of cash to settle a suit brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay $4.25 million to settle the DOJ’s suit, which it brought on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over toxic gas exposure in four of Tyson’s facilities. The DOJ’s suit says Tyson and its affiliates violated the Clean Air Act when the refrigeration units in several of its facilities began leaking anhydrous ammonia. The leak of the toxic chemical led to property damage, injury to workers and one death.

The DOJ filed its complaint on Thursday, and later that day Tyson offered to settle.

"This settlement will protect workers at Tyson facilities throughout Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska that use anhydrous ammonia, and make the communities surrounding these 23 facilities safer," Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said in a statement.

Per its agreement, Tyson will pay a $3.95 million penalty to the EPA. It will also spend an additional $300,000 to purchase equipment for fire departments that respond to chemical emergencies. The benefitting fire departments are located in the nine communities in which Tyson operates.

Tyson will also implement a system to ensure its facilities will remain in compliance.

"We strive to operate our facilities responsibly, so after learning of the EPA's concerns we immediately made improvements and cooperated with EPA officials throughout the process," said Kevin Igli, a senior vice president and chief environmental officer at Tyson, in a statement.

Read more about this story on Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel stories involving the Clean Air Act, see:

Regulatory: EPA enforcement in the energy sector and beyond

Regulatory: What to expect in the energy sector

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