SAN FRANCISCO (KSEE/KGPE) – The owner of a cheese production facility in Tulare has paid $170,000 in penalties following an incident in 2018 which saw the release of 5,690 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, according to the EPA.

Federal government officials say the Saputo Cheese facility in Tulare violated provisions of the Clean Air Act intended to protect the public from accidental releases of hazardous chemicals. 

Inspectors say a subsequent examination of the facility in 2019 determined that they had failed to correct corrosion on piping and structural supports – and failed to demonstrate that safety vents met industry standards. The EPA determined that safety improvements were necessary at the facility to help prevent future accidents.

The $170,000 penalty will cover civil penalties, ensure compliance with its Risk Management Plan, and make safety improvements to the facility.

Federal officials add that since the 2019 inspection, the facility has addressed all of the issues – with the exception of ongoing work to correct safety vent issues.