Harman Environmental Enforcement Case

Managing Corporation of KFC, Taco Bell and A&W Fails to Submit Hazardous Materials Plans: Pays $195,000 in Environmental Enforcement Case

District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announces that defendant Harman Management Corporation, which manages restaurants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Taco Bell, A & W, and Pizza Hut, has resolved a civil environmental enforcement case that was jointly investigated and prosecuted by the District Attorneys of Alameda, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. The matter was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Carbon dioxide (C02) is a colorless, odorless gas that cannot be detected by human senses. Because it is heavier than air, C02 can cause asphyxiation by displacing air at lower levels in confined spaces and in the lungs. Leaks from compressed C02 tanks, especially in contained areas, can have serious health impacts, including dizziness, unconsciousness, and ultimately asphyxiation. C02 is used to carbonate beverages.

Businesses, including restaurants such as KFC that store and use threshold amounts of carbon dioxide must implement hazardous materials business plans. Such plans require training employees so that workers know the dangers of C02, how to prevent C02 releases, how to recognize the signs of respiratory failure from potential C02 releases, and what to do should a release occur, or in a threatened release, in order to prevent harm to the public and how to properly notify appropriate emergency responders. Businesses must also submit hazardous materials business plans to the State electronically so that first responders know what chemicals are on site and in what quantities.

Harman Management, a Utah Corporation, agreed to pay $195,000 in civil penalties and costs for violations of environmental protection laws, including its failure to implement and submit hazardous materials business plans for C02 in compliance with relevant requirements, including employee training requirements, at restaurants in Alameda, Sonoma, Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties.

“The hazardous materials requirements at issue in this case were enacted and enforced for the protection of restaurant workers and customers, and for emergency responders,” states DA O’Malley. “Releases of carbon dioxide have resulted in past fatalities, and a lack of training and awareness regarding C02 is a threat to the public. Every business throughout the county and the State must comply with required measures to avoid serious and potentially fatal disasters.”

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the District Attorney's Offices of Alameda, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. Harman cooperated with the investigation, and after Harman submitted the required hazardous materials business plans and showed proof of employee training, a civil complaint and proposed order were filed to settle the matter with the payment of a civil penalty and costs and the issuance of a permanent injunction that orders the company to comply with various requirements related to hazardous materials business plans and employee training.

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Posted on Dec 10, 2018