Environmental disasters and record food safety fine 

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What’s going on in EHS this week? Find out with Safety at the Frontline!

Tune in on Mondays to get the latest safety news with Frontline’s podcast. We’re covering the top EHS news, along with some quick and useful tips, so you can stay safe and keep rocking on the frontlines.

Ohio train disaster

Earlier this month, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine Ohio, igniting a fire that covered the whole town with smoke. There were 20 cars with hazardous material on the train – 10 of which derailed. According to the EPA, chemicals including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, and others were “known to have been and continue to be” released to the air, surface soil, and surface waters.

After the incident, around 2,000 residents in East Palestine were told to evacuate the area. Ohio EPA is working on a two-stage cleanup, starting with the removal of materials from the site before moving to an assessment for a remediation plan.

As some of you may know, Former US president Barack Obama passed legislation making it mandatory for trains carrying hazardous or flammable materials to have ECP or electronically controlled pneumatic brakes. According to rail safety experts, these breaks might have mitigated the derailment. But unfortunately, the order was rescinded in 2017 under the Trump administration for being excessive and redundant.

Hazmat spill in Arizona

In other news, a crash involving a commercial truck tractor pulling a box trailer in Arizona caused a hazmat spill that shut down part of a highway and required residents nearby to evacuate or shelter in place.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety stated that they were investigating the spill on Interstate 10 in Tucson. It was stated that the truck tractor, which was carrying liquid nitric acid, was leaking hazardous material.

Plant nursery fire in Florida

massive fire recently broke out at a plant nursery in Osceola County.

The fire was fought by 21 units and 75 firefighters for nearly 12 hours. Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the property and until recently crews were working on cleaning up a “large mess of melted plastic.”

Officials with Osceola County Fire Rescue say that over two acres’ worth of pallets holding plastic planters were burned in the fire. Hazmat crews and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were monitoring the air, and they reported that no hazardous material was released. Thankfully, no structures were damaged, and no one was hurt in the incident.

Record fine in food safety case

And for our last news, Kerry Inc. recently pleaded guilty to a charge that it manufactured ready-to-eat breakfast cereal under unsanitary conditions at a facility in Gridley, Illinois. The plant was linked to a 2018 outbreak of Salmonella that involved Kellogg’s Honey Smacks.

As part of their guilty plea in the federal court, Kerry agreed to pay a criminal fine and forfeiture amount totaling $19.228 million. If accepted by the court, the $19.228 million fine and forfeiture will constitute the largest-ever criminal penalty following a criminal conviction in a food safety case, according to the US Department of Justice.

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In the meantime, stay safe and stay tuned for next time.