United States

                 Environment Protection

Chemical Emergency Parepareness

and Prevention Office

June 1990

OSWER 91 -008.2

Series 8. Wo. 2
vvEPA   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 302 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

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 Title 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,
             Metal 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
           your 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 aware that products similar to ammonia (e.g.,
           ammonium hydroxide), while not on the list of EHSs,
           may  still give off ammonia vapors  upon release.

        •  Ensure that the facilities covered by Sections 302,
           311, and 312 of SARA Title III have provided to the
           LEPC and local fire departments adequate informa-
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           Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Advisory

                               £S) Printed on Recycled Paper

   tion about ammonia stired at their location. Gather
   infomation about smaller quantities of ammonia as
   well. (Not all facilities using or storing ammonia will
   met the reporting thresholds.) The LEFC 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) 6758250; and the
   International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration,
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   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) 424-8802], your SERC and
   LEPC, and the local tire department.

• When contacting these organizations, provide the
   following information: chemical name, estimate of
   quantity released, time and duration of the release,
   affected media, a list of potential health risks, and the
   name and telephone number of a contact person at the
                                        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 threshoid 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 thai
 includes a hazard assessment, an accidental release prevention program, and a response program. The law requires tha
 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 ammonia and the Emergency Planning and Community
   Right-to-Know  Act.
     Handwork 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

     DOT's 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.)
  Response Information Data Sheets (RIDS) found in
  CAMEO II, a computer-based planning and response
  management program that is available from:

       The National Safety Council
       444 N. Michigan Avenue
       Chicago, IL 60611
       (312) 527-4600 (x6900)

  Your County or State Health Agency

  Your State Emergency Response Commission

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

  EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-
  Know Information Hotline at (800J 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
                                        EPA OS-120
                                        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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ĞU.S. QPO: 1991— 52*407/40322