Kloosterboer fined $10,000 for late reporting of ammonia leak

A freezer line leaked 125 pounds of ammonia at Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor on Dec. 3, 2016, seriously injuring a worker. (Laura Kraegel/KUCB)

After a dangerous ammonia leak last winter, Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor is renovating its refrigeration system, investing in its hazmat team, and paying a $10,008 fine.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the settlement this week.

It holds the seafood cold storage company responsible for violating emergency response statutes after an industrial freezer leaked 125 pounds of ammonia and seriously injured a worker caught inside.

“They did immediately call 911,” Erin Williams of EPA Region 10 said. “But they were very delayed in [following] the state and federal reporting requirements.”

Williams said Kloosterboer was almost two days late in notifying the necessary agencies, which put first responders at risk.

The company could have been fined more than $100,000, but the penalty was reduced when it agreed to install extra safeguards.

“One of which is updating computerized refrigeration control systems at their facility,” Williams said. “It provides leak detection, alarms, and emergency shutoff.”

Kloosterboer is also training two employees in hazmat response and donating emergency equipment to the Unalaska Department of Public Safety. The prevention projects are estimated to cost $26,000, according to the EPA.

Kloosterboer’s owner, American Seafoods Group, declined to answer questions about the incident, which marked the facility’s first EPA violation.

The company did issue a statement:

“The terms of [Kloosterboer’s] settlement with [the] EPA regarding the accidental ammonia release on Dec, 3, 2016 will not only ensure possible future ammonia leaks at the facility will be detected and automatic responses activated, but will also help ensure the local emergency responders are adequately equipped to respond to ammonia and other hazardous material-related incidents in the Unalaska/Dutch Harbor Area.”

Laura Kraegel covers Unalaska and the Aleutian Islands for KUCB . Originally from Chicago, she first came to Alaska to work at KNOM, reporting on Nome and the Bering Strait Region. (laura@kucb.org / 907.581.6700)

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