EPA fines DECC for July 2021 ammonia leak

After an ammonia leak at the DECC in July 2021, the facility now has to pay penalties to the EPA.

To resolve alleged violations of federal requirements to report the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) has been fined $118,195 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The settlement will help ensure that the facility is prepared for any future chemical emergencies.

“It is imperative for facilities storing hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia to follow the regulations designed to protect communities and the environment from potential risks,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “Improving the DECC’s preparedness for accidental chemical releases helps make Duluth safer.”

EPA alleges the DECC violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) by failing to report a July 2021 release of anhydrous ammonia.

DECC staff first discovered the leak in a cooling system at the Curling Club. At the time, the Duluth Fire Department said there were only three people in that section of the building, and they were able to get out quickly. A Hazmat team was sent to the scene to investigate the source of the leak and the area was evacuated. Fortunately, there were no injuries and officials said there was no threat to the greater area. Most of the DECC was back up and running the next morning.

EPA also alleges the DECC failed to submit required documentation, including safety data sheets, for sulfuric acid and a completed inventory of its on-site emergency and hazardous chemicals to the appropriate federal, state and local authorities for 2020 and 2021.

The DECC has certified that it is currently in compliance with CERCLA and EPCRA regulations.