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Potential Environmental and Regulatory Liabilities in the Food and Beverage Industry

The most common environmental and regulatory exposures encountered in the food and beverage industry include:

  • Non-compliant waste water discharges into the sewer system or septic tank system.
  • Poorly managed underground storage tanks and associated pipes.
  • No formal above-ground tank inspection or testing procedures.
  • Un-dyked above-ground tanks.
  • Ammonia releases or other emissions from on-site refrigeration systems.
  • Inadequate control of nuisance emissions and odours.
  • Facility personnel not witnessing deliveries of fuels and liquids.
  • Bulk storage of hazardous products, such as paints, solvents and cleaners.
  • Information unavailable on where ALL floor drains discharge.
  • No ability to control large quantities of fire fighting water.
  • Uncertainties about the historical use of the property.
  • Complacent attitude by management about environmental liabilities.


Claims Examples:

Refrigeration System Release

A large cold storage company experienced a loss of ammonia when a lorry backed into an above-ground storage tank. A group of food inspectors touring the plant were exposed to the ammonia gas. The neighbouring facility was forced to evacuate until the dangerous situation was under control. Claims were eventually made by both building’s inspectors — for bodily injury — and the neighbouring facility — for business interruption damages.

Commercial Bakery

A large commercial bakery had a tanker load of corn syrup delivered. The above-ground storage tank into which the syrup was being transferred had a complete valve failure. This resulted in the immediate release of 30,000 litres of syrup that contaminated an adjacent creek. Costs for clean-up and product loss exceeded £29,000.

Septic Tank Failure

The waste water from nightly floor washing entered the floor drains that led to an on-site septic tank. Over the years, the septic tank leaked into the groundwater, increasing nitrate levels. As a result, neighbours were forced to abandon their drinking water wells and hook up to the city water system. The residents filed suit against to recover the costs of the hook-up.

Retail Bakery

A retail bakery used large ovens to bake an average of 3,000 loaves of bread each day. The ovens were fuelled with heating oil, which was stored in a 75,000-litre above-ground storage tank. The tank failed catastrophically, causing a breach of the secondary containment and the release of fuel oil to the surrounding soils and an adjacent river. Claims and loss of business costs approached £1 million.

This is not an exhaustive list of environmental exposures. It represents the most common environmental exposures for this industry. ProAktive will work with you to identify environmental exposures that are unique to your business to help you reduce risk.

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