One of the Northwest’s biggest dairy producers has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s after the milk co-op failed to report a chlorine gas release that required medical treatment for a dozen people.
Chlorine gas is highly toxic. It can make your eyes, nose and mouth burn. If you breathe the gas, it can cause respiratory problems or death.
In May of 2012, a truck driver for the milk co-op Darigold incorrectly connected a hose to a tank at a facility in Portland. The truck was carrying a cleaning solution, and a violent chemical reaction released chlorine gas.
Darigold called the Portland fire department 15 minutes after the release, but it failed to notify state and federal regulators, as required by law.
Companies are required to report chemical releases to federal and state authorities, if they exceed a certain amount. For chlorine gas, that amount is 10 pounds. The Portland facility released 166 pounds of chlorine gas over six hours, according to investigators.
The exposure sent twelve people to the hospital: eight Darigold employees, a truck driver, two contractors, and a driver who was near the facility when the gas was released.
Darigold has agreed to pay more than $42,000 in fines.