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November 29, 2023

Ice cream maker HP Hood pays $115K penalty for Clean Air Act violations

PHOTO | Courtesy Suffield Assessor HP Hood LLC's plant in Suffield.

Dairy giant HP Hood LLC has agreed to pay a $115,849 penalty to settle U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that it violated federal laws that regulate the handling and storage of ammonia at its ice cream facility in Suffield.

Hood is a well-known manufacturer of ice cream, milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, eggnog and other dairy products.

Under the terms of a settlement agreement with the EPA, Hood has also agreed to do safety audits of its facilities nationwide.

EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said ensuring safe practices surrounding hazardous substances such as ammonia is key to preventing pollution and harm to employees, the community and environment.

"This case serves as a reminder to companies that accountability and compliance is important,” Cash said. 

Anhydrous ammonia is used as a refrigerant. It is corrosive and can cause injuries if it comes into contact with the skin, eyes and lungs. It also is flammable and can cause an explosion if there is a leak with a source of ignition present, according to the EPA.

The agency conducted an inspection at the Suffield plant and indicated it found violations of the Clean Air Act. Problems included missing ammonia alarms, inadequate labeling of critical equipment, and failure to adhere to engineering best practices in equipment installation, the agency said.

The EPA also alleged that the company failed to sufficiently conduct piping inspections. The agency indicated it found damaged pipe insulation and a minor anhydrous ammonia leak from a valve. 

The penalty also included a separate EPA assessment regarding an ammonia release caused by a forklift impact. Hood must take steps to protect pipes in the plant’s machinery room from future forklift impacts.

According to the EPA, all issues it found at the Suffield plant have been fixed. 

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