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Ventura County Agricultural Association Reaches Civil Settlement With County Over Chemical Release

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Ventura County Fire Department
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Ventura County firefighters at the scene of a February 2019 chemical release which led to some precautionary school lockdowns.

Release led to precautionary lockdowns at two schools.

A fruit packing association on the South Coast has agreed to pay nearly $50,000 in fines, plus investigation costs following a chemical release which forced a shelter in place order for two nearby elementary schools.

Ventura County prosecutors say the incident happened in February of 2019, at the Saticoy Lemon Association’s packing facility in Santa Paula.

Prosecutors say malfunctioning equipment led to a release of a chemical, similar to household bleach, into the air. Sodium hypochlorite is used to sterilize fruit before packing. The say the release wasn’t properly reported to authorities. No serious injuries were reported.

The settlement includes an agreement that the association will immediately report any accidental releases. It includes $5,000 in civil penalties, and nearly $23,000 in reimbursement to the DA’s office for the cost of the investigation.