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Fruit storage plant fined $23,000 by EPA

GRANDVIEW - A paperwork snafu discovered by the Environmental Protection Agency has resulted in the levying of $23,000 in fines against Grandview's Kenyon Zero Storage.

In a recent audit of the firm that supplies ammonia to the Grandview and Prosser plants, it was discovered that Kenyon Zero Storage did not have on file the ammonia purchases it had made from 2000 to 2004. The ammonia is used at the Grandview storage facility for refrigeration purposes.

The reports of ammonia purchases are required by the EPA. The paperwork snafu was discovered, according to Suzanne Powers of the EPA, when investigators compared invoices to ammonia purchase reports.

"Reports are important," Powers said. "If there is an emergency, they could be the difference between life and death."

Kenyon Zero Storage has since come into compliance because there is a five-year statute of limitations. Powers said the fines could have gone as high as $500,000, but EPA worked closely with the firm and the determination was made that Kenyon does not have "...a bottomless pit of money." She also noted that Kenyon is an important part of the agricultural industry in the Lower Yakima Valley.

In addition to the $23,000 in fines, Kenyon Zero Storage has agreed to fund a $42,000 Supplemental Environmental Project, with the Grandview and Prosser fire departments the prime benefactors. The money will be spent on the purchase of emergency response equipment, which will increase the safety of those firefighters responding to hazardous material calls.

"It was a good thing that they (Kenyon) rose to the level they did to work with the fire departments and create that project," said Powers.

Kenyon Zero Storage President Scott Wingert stressed that local residents were never put in danger by his company. "At no time has the public health or safety been jeopardized by any failure of Kenyon to file the required paperwork.

"Local first-responders have always been aware of the nature and quantity of ammonia used at the Kenyon warehouses," Wingert said.

Wingert added that the emergency response equipment his firm will provide for the two fire departments will greatly benefit the Grandview and Prosser communities.

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