A Pennsylvania company whose manufacturing plant in Fremont makes cargo tanks that hold anhydrous ammonia has been fined nearly $3.9 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation for making and selling cargo tanks found to be defective.
American Welding & Tank Co., of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was cited for violating federal hazardous material safety standards in the production of unsafe "nurse" tanks -- a cargo tank used for storage and transport -- sold for use with farming operations. Anhydrous ammonia is used as a fertilizer in farming but is extremely caustic and easily can damage living tissue quickly and is especially hazardous to any moist part of a body, including eyes, ears, nose, throat, bronchia, lungs, or any moist skin.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently conducted a safety investigation of American Welding's plant on Graham Drive in Fremont after receiving reports of safety defects with recently manufactured tanks. The factory employs about 100 workers.
The federal agency said there was a clear pattern of failure to manufacture, maintain, repair, and sell "nurse" tanks that met safety standards.
Messages were left at both the Fremont plant and the company's Pennsylvania offices, but there was no response.
"When cargo tank manufacturers are not living up to federal safety standards, we will take action," Anne S. Ferro, Federal Motor Carrier Safety administrator, said in a statement. "Our agency is committed to using every resource available to keep our roads safe and save lives."
If American Welding contests its $3,876,000 fine, it must do so by Nov. 9.