FROM:
Karyn Sinunu, Assistant District Attorney
CONTACT PERSON:
Bud Porter, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2962   For Release on December 9, 2002     TOXIC AMMONIA CLOUD IN SAN JOSE—COMPANY TO PAY $75,000 IN FINES FOR CRIMES RELATED TO RELEASE   A refrigeration business pleaded guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court today to negligently causing a release of toxic gas and not calling 9-1-1 to report it.   Judge Patrick Tondreau imposed a $75,000 fine on the defendant, Modern Ice and Cold Storage, which uses anhydrous ammonia at its facility on Oakland Road.  Modern Ice was convicted of breaking several laws designed to protect workers and the public from the worst kinds of chemical accidents.   On May 8, 2001, anhydrous ammonia escaped from Modern Ice through a corroded valve and two open pipes that should have been closed.  The invisible vapors saturated the neighborhood with a pungent odor that sent four people to the hospital.  Although the injuries in this case were minor, ammonia is a toxic gas that can cause breathing problems, eye damage, skin burns, and death.   Two Modern Ice employees, who were aware of the leaking ammonia but did not call the fire department, pleaded guilty to the charge.  The court sentenced each to perform 50 hours of community service and to pay a $1,000 fine.   The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Environmental Protection Unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.   ###

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