Anheuser-Busch will pay $537,000 in penalties to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and other safety policies, according to a June 5 press release from the EPA. The government body claims that EPA inspections found that A-B failed to properly institute standard prevention practices at several breweries that handle anhydrous ammonia.

The EPA also investigated a 2018 ammonia release at Anheuser-Busch’s Fort Collins brewery, which injured two employees and sent six Fort Collins residents to the hospital, according to the Coloradoan. The leak allegedly left a noticeable chemical odor in surrounding neighborhoods.

Between 2016 to 2019, the EPA investigated three A-B breweries located in New Hampshire, Colorado, and California — all of which the EPA claims didn’t have proper protection measures in place.

“Many of the EPA’s allegations for all three facilities are related to Anheuser-Busch’s failure to comply with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices,” the press release states. “When enforcing recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices under the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations, the EPA looks to these industry standards of care for how to design and operate a safe ammonia refrigeration system.”

Anhydrous ammonia is a corrosive chemical found both in liquid and gas form that is commonly used as a refrigerant. It can be destructive to the skin, eyes, and lungs, and causes approximately 120 “catastrophic” accidents nationwide at production facilities each year.

An A-B representative shared a brief statement with VinePair over email on Tuesday.

“Worker safety and environmental responsibility are top priorities for us, and this settlement builds upon improvements that were already underway,” the spokesperson said. “We are continually investing in our breweries to ensure our facilities and our people remain compliant with necessary safety requirements.”

Per the terms of the settlement, A-B will contract an independent expert to review safety practices at its 11 U.S. breweries that use anhydrous ammonia. The expert will then provide guidance and assist A-B in developing an action plan to maximize safe handling of the chemical.

“This settlement will help protect workers and the local community near Anheuser-Busch’s facility in Fairfield, California, by requiring key updates to the brewery’s health and safety practices,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman in the release. “EPA is committed to holding companies accountable if they fail to adequately prepare for and prevent chemical accidents, especially for dangerous chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia.”

The updated prevention measures will protect some 172,000 residents in the communities surrounding Anheuser-Busch breweries, the EPA says.

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