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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Cooper Brothers Ammonia Release

Removal action at Cooper Brothers Ammonia Release, Turner, ME

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Oct. 28, 2010 asked for help from the EPA to assess the abandoned Cooper Brothers apple packing and storage facility at 1833 Auburn Road in Turner, Maine. On Nov. 15, 2010, EPA, DEP and a contractor met at the facility to begin investigating an ammonia leak from the refrigeration system. Air monitoring indicated levels of ammonia inside the building that reached 100 parts per million in the refrigeration room, with somewhat lower levels throughout the interior. Very low levels were found outside the building, near an open window. DEP was concerned that the rate release could increase or that a catastrophic failure of the system could occur, causing a release of large amounts of ammonia to the surrounding area.

There are two businesses within 200 yards. The nearest residence was also within 200 yards. There was evidence of people trespassing onto the property and inside the building. The abandoned property had been through bankruptcy court and had not been occupied or maintained for several years. There were no utility services or water for fire suppression inside the building. There were no parties available to address the release. Because of the lack of maintenance, the refrigeration system pressure relief valves were rusted and piping showed evidence of corrosion. The potential existed for the catastrophic release of the remaining anhydrous ammonia in the system.

In light of the unstable situation, EPA and DEP determined that the situation warranted an immediate cleanup to control the release and remove the remaining ammonia.

On November 17, 2010, EPA contractors transferred about 300 gallons (1575 pounds) of anhydrous ammonia from the refrigeration to a specialty tanker truck to be taken off-site for eventual reclamation. Over the next several days, the residual ammonia was slowly purged from the system and captured in drums and totes.

Until Dec. 2, 2010, EPA contractors visited the property daily to monitor the residual ammonia levels in the warehouse and the ammonia engine room. Air levels gradually declined to background levels inside the building. On Dec. 3, contractors transported the remaining ammonium hydroxide solution off site. Ten 55-gallon drums and one 275-gallon tote were taken to a site in Cincinnati, Ohio for reclamation. Contractors then secured the building to complete the cleanup.

Location: 1833 Auburn Road (Route 4), Turner, ME
EPA Mobilization Date*: 10/28/2010
EPA Demobilization Date*: 12/03/2010
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

*The information contained on this website is merely informational; any dates found on the website cannot be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States. EPA reserves the right to change such dates at any time without public notice.

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