Environmental Protection
and Prevention Office
(OS-120)       |
OSWER 91-008.2
Series 8, No. 2
 4>EPA    Chemical  Emergency Preparedness
                 and  Prevention Advisory
This advisory recommends ways Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and chemical facilities can minimize
risks posed by the presence of ammonia in their communities. Ammonia is toxic if swallowed or inhaled and can irritate
or burn the skin, eyes, nose, or throat through inhalation or direct contact.  Careless storage or mixing of ammonia with
other chemicals can cause the release of toxic ammonia vapors, as well as fires and high-pressure releases, and result in
injuries or death to unprotected community members. Its toxicity and high production volume prompted EPA to list
ammonia as an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) under Section 3Q2 of the Emergency Planning and Community-
Right-to-Know Act (commonly known as SARA Title III). In addition, OSHA regulations require that facility employees
who could potentially be exposed to ammonia in any form be trained in the safe use and potential hazards posed by this
chemical.                                                 j
EPA stresses that although mishandling of ammonia can cause harm, there is no cause for undue alarm about its presence
in the community. Ammonia is typically handled safely and without incident. More than 70% of all ammonia produced
today in the U.S. is used either in direct application as a fertilizer or to manufacture other fertilizers. Anhydrous ammo-
nia is commonly applied directly to soils to bolster the strength of plant roots, improve nutrient uptake, and stimulate
growth. Ammonia is also used to purify municipal and industrial water supplies, as an oxygen scavenger in treating
boiler feed water, and as a refrigerant gas in commercial installations.! Reducing the use of chlorofluorocarbons as
refrigerants, in efforts to protect the ozone layer, will  likely increase reliance on ammonia for refrigeration, which may
result in even greater production  and storage volumes of ammonia at a greater number of facilities.

Section 302 of SARA Tide III requires LEPCs to develop
comprehensive emergency plans to address facilities
where ammonia as well as other EHSs and hazardous
materials are present in excess of their threshold planning
quantities (500 pounds for ammonia). Because ammonia
is widely used in large quantities and poses a significant
health and safety hazard, EPA suggests that LEPCs take
the following steps:

Hazards Identification:
• Know where ammonia could be found. Facilities that
  routinely use ammonia include:

  -  Cold storage facilities;
  -  Fertilizer manufacturers and farms;
  -  Synthetic fibers and plastics plants;
  -  Rubber manufacturers;
  -  Tanneries;
  -  Pharmaceutical companies;
  -  Alkali plants;
  -  Chemical manufacturers (e.g., nitric acid,
          -  JMetal processing plants;
          -  (Manufacturers of cleaning products;
          -  Skating rinks;
          -  Pulp and paper processors; and
          -  Petroleum refineries and natural gas plants.
        • Send a copy of this advisory to all such facilities in
          yopr LEPC jurisdiction, calling their attention to the
          recommended steps for facilities in the section below.

        • Be,familiar with other names for "ammonia."  Trade
          names for ammonia include AM-FOL, ammonia gas,
          anhydrous ammonia, Nitro-Sil, R 717, Spirit of
          Hartshorn, and liquid ammonia.
        • Be; a ware that products similar to ammonia (e.g.,
          ammonium hydroxide), while not on the list of EHSs,
          may still give off ammonia vapors upon release.
        • En$ure that the facilities covered by Sections 302,
          31^, and 312 of SARA Title III have provided to the
          LEPC and  local fire departments adequate informa-

PI 9023-1
          Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention. Advisory

                              rS> Printed on Recycled Paper

     lion about ammonia stored at their location.  Gather
     information about smaller quantities of ammonia as
     well. (Not all facilities using or storing ammonia will
     meet the reporting thresholds.) The LEPC can request
     material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for hazardous
     chemicals present at a facility  in amounts below the
  Emergency Planning:
  •  Engage in a dialogue with facilities about possibilities
    for reducing ammonia inventories or providing special
    protection to containment vessels. Be aware that
    reducing inventories could lead to an increase in
    transportation-related releases.

 •  Regularly exercise and review Title III plans to ensure
    that facilities handling large quantities of ammonia
    are covered, and that emergency response issues
    concerning possible releases of ammonia have been

 •  Ensure that local hospitals and physicians are properly
    trained and prepared to treat victims of ammonia

 •  Ask facility officials for copies of their emergency
    response plans so the LEPC and fire departments can
    use them to prepare pre-incident plans and also ensure
    that facility and community plans are coordinated.

 Risk Communication:
 •  Inform the community of the potential hazard, as well
    as methods for treating victims of ammonia exposure.

 •  Inform farmers or other handlers of ammonia of the
    hazards related to ammonia and the need for safe
    handling and storage.  For example, large quantities
    of fertilizer should not be stored near explosive or
    flammable materials.


 In cooperation with LEPCs and local response officials,
 facilities should take the following steps:

 Handling and Storage:
 • Ensure that all containers, piping, valves, and fittings
   contacting ammonia are constructed of iron, steel, or
   other ammonia-compatible materials, as ammonia is
   corrosive to even trace amounts of copper, zinc,
   silver, and many of their alloys. Check that the
   ammonia contains at least 0.2% water to prevent
     stress corrosion of the recommended compatible

 •  Install tank pressure gauges and safety valves on
    ammonia gas storage tanks for pressure relief.

 •  Install leak detectors if facilities are unstaffed for
    periods of time.

 •  Refer to Department of Transportation (DOT) regula-
    tions for shipping, packaging, marking, and labeling
    requirements. Also refer to the Compressed Gas
    Association publications G-2.1/ANSI K61.1-1989 and
    ANSI/ASHRAE 15 for guidelines on safe handling
    and storage of anhydrous ammonia.  See page 3 of
    this advisory for the address and telephone number of
    the Compressed Gas Association.

 Employee Safety:
 •  Ensure that adequate training is provided to all facility
    employees concerning the safe handling, storage, and
    use of ammonia.

 •  Ensure that the proper protective equipment is easily
    accessible in case ammonia is released. Train
    employees in the proper use of the equipment.

 Hazard Awareness:
 •   Do not mix ammonia (or products similar to ammo-
    nia) with chlorine compounds.  While each can be a
    good cleaning agent alone, a mixture of the two can
    be dangerous.

 •   Keep ammonia away from other chemicals. Ammonia
    may react with other substances (e.g., strong oxidiz-
    ers, calcium, hypochlorite bleaches, halogens, gold,
    mercury, and silver) causing fires, explosions, and
    releases of highly toxic gases.

 •  Be aware of other hazards associated with ammonia.
    For example, heat from a fire may cause compressed
    ammonia gas to expand rapidly.  Properly sized
   pressure relief valves are used to protect storage tanks
   and prevent rupturing during a fire. Water can be
    used to control the temperature of the tank and
   prevent softening of the containment material, thereby
   minimizing any rupture.

•  Further information about hazards posed by ammonia
   may be obtained from the following organizations:
   The Fertilizer Institute, 501 Second Street, N.E.,
   Washington, DC 20002, (202) 675-8250; and the
   International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration,
Page 2
                                                            Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention. Advisory

    1101 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC
    20036, (202) 857-1100.

 Risk Minimization:

 •  Place tanks containing ammonia outdoors or in well-
    ventilated, detached, or segregated areas to minimize
    damage from possible tank ruptures, explosions, or

 •  Ensure that no containers are leaking or broken,
    and conduct regular maintenance checks of all equip-
    ment and containers coming in contact with ammonia.
 Emergency Notification:

 • , In the event of a release, contact the National Re-
   | sponse Center [(800) 424-8802J, your SERC and
   I LEPC, and the local fire department.

 • ; When contacting these organizations, provide the
   i following information: chemical name, estimate of
   ; quantity released, time and duration of the release,
   j affected media, a list of potential health risks, and the
   • name and telephone number of a contact person at the
   I facility.
                                         A NEW FEDERAL LAW
   Ammonia is specifically mentioned in the accidental release provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
   This law requires EPA to promulgate an initial list of at least 100 ;substances that cause death, injury, or serious adverse
   health effects to human health or the environment, and determine ,a threshold quantity for each. Congress has identified
   the first 15 substances to be included on this list; ammonia is among them.  Where regulated substances above the
   threshold quantity are present at a facility, the owner/operator will be required to prepare a risk management plan that
   includes a hazard assessment, an accidental release prevention program, and a response program. The law requires that
   EPA publish regulations under the amended Clean Air Act within three years, and allows facilities an additional three
   years to comply. Facilities will be required to provide copies of the risk management plan to the LEPC, as well as to the
   state. In addition, OSHA will promulgate, no later than November 15, 1991, a final rule that will require facilities with
   certain highly hazardous chemicals present in excess of OSHA thresholds to implement chemical process safety man-
   agement, an integrated approach to identifying the hazards and managing the risks posed by on-site chemicals. Ammo-
   nia is included on the OSHA list as well.                      !

   The following is a listing of some sources of information about anjmonia and the Emergency Planning and Community
   Right-to-Know ACL

  •  Handbook of Compressed Gases and
     Anhydrous Ammonia (CGA G-2).
     Copies of both documents are available from:
          Compressed Gas Association
          Crystal Gateway #1, Suite 501
          1235 Jefferson Davis Highway
          Arlington. VA 22202
          (703) 979-0900
   [Response Information Data Sheets (RIDS) found in
   ; CAMEO II, a computer-based planning and response
   ! management program that is available from:

   I     The National Safety Council
        444 N. Michigan Avenue
   ;     Chicago, IL 60611
        (312) 527-4800 (X6900)
     DOTs 1990 Emergency Response Guidebook. Copies
     are available from:
          American Trucking Associations
          2200 Mill Road
          Alexandria, VA 22314-4677
          Attn: Customer Services Department
          (800) ATA-LINE

     CHEMTREC, a 24-hour emergency hotline that
     provides information and assistance to responders
     during an emergency. Contact (800) 424-9300 or
     (202) 483-7616.  (Note: CHEMTREC is for
     emergency use only.)
•  Your County or State Health Agency

•  jYour State Emergency Response Commission

•  |Your EPA Regional CEPP Coordinator. EPA
   ^Regional offices are located in Boston, New York,
   Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City,
   I Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle.

•  EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-
   ;Know Information Hotline at (800) 535-0202, or
   :(703) 920-9877 from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.
   to 7:30 p.m.. Eastern time.
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                                                           •Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Advisory

     This advisory is the second of a new series which EPA is publishing to alert LEPCs to hazards posed by
     hazardous substances that have resulted in accidents where death, injury, or evacuations have occurred.
     LEPCs are responsible for emergency planning for hazardous materials and for collecting and managing
     data on hazardous chemicals present in their community.

     Please send comments on this Advisory and suggestions for future topics to:

                                        CEPP Advisory
                                        401 M Street, SW
                                        Washington,  DC 20460

     Additional copies of this advisory and the earlier advisory on swimming pool chemicals are available from
     the above address or by calling (800) 535-0202 or (703) 920-9877.
  Page 4
                                                        Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Advisory
     United States
     Environmental Protection
     Agency (OS-120)
     Washington, DC 20460

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a U.S. QPO: 1991—52S-507/4O322