A Boston seafood company whose employee died in 2016 during a massive release of ammonia at its Seaport facility has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle charges it violated federal environmental rules.
The payment from Stavis Seafoods Inc. is part of a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency, which accused the company of various violations related to managing chemicals.
Stavis declined to comment on the settlement.
Many of the EPA charges are related to the March 2016 incident where a burst pipe released more than 2,100 pounds of ammonia from the refrigeration system at a cold storage warehouse on Channel Street. Brian Caron, a 43-year-old father of two from Peabody, died in the accident.
The release of ammonia was so powerful that firefighters were unable to rescue Caron, and authories closed off surrounding streets, requiring people in nearby buildings to shelter in place.
Used as a refrigerant, the EPA said, anhydrous ammonia is also extremely hazardous, corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs, and deadly in large exposures; under limited conditions, it is flammable and explosive.
While ammonia is an effective refrigerant, the EPA said, it also an “extremely hazardous chemical” that “can be immediately dangerous to life and health.”
“This case clearly illustrates the critical importance of complying with chemical accident planning, prevention, and mitigation requirements,” EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn said in a statement.
Stavis had previously been fined $173,000 by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 20 “serious” safety violations that exposed employees to the risk of falls, electrical shocks, and hazardous chemicals, the agency said in September 2016.
The seafood processor has since closed the Channel Street facility. In January, IMV Holdings, a global fishing and processing company based in the Netherlands, made a major investment in Stavis, and longtime chief executive Richard Stavis moved into a new role, replaced by Chuck Marble.