For release on December 9, 2022
Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
Waffle-Maker Eggo Fined for Toxic Gas Release in San Jose
The Eggo Company was convicted and sentenced today for a large release of toxic ammonia from its waffle factory in San Jose.
Eggo was criminally charged with negligently discharging an air contaminant, failing to immediately report that release, providing inadequate training to its contractors, and failing to implement an adequate emergency action plan. The company was ordered to pay approximately $85,000.
“Public safety and the environment are threatened with every passing minute in these cases,” Deputy District Attorney Jason Bussey said. “When companies fail to immediately report a release, they face serious consequences.”
The release occurred on January 22, 2021, when a subcontractor on a scissor lift damaged a pipe that began leaking anhydrous ammonia, a toxic gas that can cause severe injury or death. Eggo managers did not call 911 until more than an hour had passed, mistakenly believing they had stopped the leak. The delay contributed to the emergency in which approximately 3,400 pounds of anhydrous ammonia escaped into the surrounding neighborhood. Residents were forced to shelter in place for several hours while first responders stopped the leak. No injuries were reported.
Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used as a refrigerant in food processing operations. Eggo’s San Jose facility uses the substance to freeze the waffles it produces there. Eggo cooperated with regulatory authorities and is upgrading its systems and procedures to prevent future releases.