Columbus Manufacturing to Cough UP $ 850,000 Over Ammonia Leak in August 2009

With the hospitalization of 17 people at a South San Francisco Columbus manufacturing facility due to an ammonia leak, the company has decided to cough up $ 850,000 as well as carry safety upgrades at the plant.

These actions were agreed upon by the company due to the lawsuit filed by the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office that accused the sausage-making giant of not training employees on how to handle hazardous materials along with not updating safety information as well as not conducting proper safety reviews of new safety equipment.

These accusations were due to the fact that in August 2009, a new refrigeration system installed on the roof exposed seventeen workers to about 200 pounds of ammonia.

The District Attorney’s Office viewed this whole incident as serious, and in making a settlement with the company, ensured that $ 550,000 of the total amount was in civil penalties while the rest of the amount was to cover for the emergency response to the plight of the workers as well as the investigation that led to the lawsuit.

Of course, the company did not accept any wrongdoing to the incident, and blamed it on the contractor who had apparently not done a professional job with the refrigeration unit in question.

As a part of this settlement, Columbus Manufacturing now has to install ammonia-leak sensors as well as a system that will notify employees and neighbors if an ammonia leak ever occurred again.