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Eggo criminally charged for releasing ammonia from San Jose plant in 2021

The Eggo Company was fined $85,000 for releasing a large amount of ammonia from its plant in San Jose, then failing to report it. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
The Eggo Company was fined $85,000 for releasing a large amount of ammonia from its plant in San Jose, then failing to report it. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Leading frozen waffle-maker the Eggo Company was fined $85,000 for releasing a large amount of ammonia from its plant in San Jose, Calif., then failing to report it.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced the conviction and sentence Wednesday for the toxic gas release that took place in January 2021. Eggo was charged for releasing the toxic gas, failing to report, not properly training its contractors and failing to implement an "emergency action plan."

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"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 ammonia release happened as a result of a subcontractor damaging a pipe with a scissor lift. The pipe leaked anhydrous ammonia and managers at the plant did not call 911 for more than an hour.

About 3,400 pounds of ammonia were released. Nearby residents were told to shelter in place while the leak was fixed. No injuries were reported.

Exposure to high levels of ammonia can damage the lungs and cause death to those exposed. It is used in the freezing process at many food processing plants.

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"Since that time, we've made a number of significant enhancements to our processes and protocols to ensure we have the safest possible environment for our employees and neighbors," Kris Bahner, spokesperson for Eggo's parent company, Kellogg, told NBC News.

The press release from the district attorney's office confirms Eggo cooperated with regulators to upgrade its systems and procedures.

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