TOPEKA, KAN. – Harcros Chemicals, Inc., and MGP Ingredients, Inc., today were fined $1 million each for violating the federal Clean Air Act when a cloud of toxic chlorine gas was released over Atchison, Kan., in 2016, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said. Both companies have paid the fines.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree sentenced the companies during a hearing in federal court in Topeka today. Both companies pleaded guilty to negligently violating the Clean Air Act, which is a Class A misdemeanor.
In their pleas, they admitted that on Oct. 21, 2016, a greenish-yellow chlorine gas cloud formed at MGP Ingredients’ facility in Atchison when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite. The Atchison County Department of Emergency Management ordered community members to shelter in place and to evacuate in some areas. Approximately 140 individuals including members of the public, first responders, employees of MGP Ingredients and Harcos Chemicals sought medical attention.
“The chemicals involved in this case posed serious public health and environmental dangers,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cate Holston of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas. “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for actions that put an entire community at risk.”
McAllister commended the Environmental Protection Agency and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Hathaway for their work on the case.