MGP Ingredients, the hometown Atchison distillery and agricultural goods giant, could be fined up to $1 million for a chlorine gas cloud that lingered over town after an industrial accident in 2016.
Federal prosecutors say MGP Ingredients pleaded guilty on Monday to negligently violating the federal Clean Air Act, a misdemeanor. The company offered a statement on the development on Monday evening.
“The company believes this resolution is in the best interest of its stakeholders and is ready to move forward after cooperating fully with federal state, and local safety officials for the past three years,” the statement reads. “In fact, the federal government agency responsible for investigating chemical safety incidents complimented MGPI’s response.
“MGP remains committed to its role as a good corporate citizen and to ensuring the safety and well-being of employees and the communities in which it operates.”
In October 2016, a chlorine gas cloud formed at the company’s Atchison plant when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite.
Residents evacuated or sheltered in place for hours. About 140 people sought medical attention. A federal report blamed the leak on missing key rings on chemical storage tanks and a lack of attention to procedure.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 24 in proceedings of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Wichita. The case has been prosecuted by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, Stephen McAllister, an appointee of President Donald Trump.
This story incorporates information from an Associated Press summary of a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wichita.