Cabot fined for 2005 ammonia spill

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Cabot Creamery has been fined $50,000 and placed on two years’ probation for a 2005 ammonia spill that killed plants, fish and macroinvertebrates in the Winooski River.

U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions also ordered the cheese maker yesterday to spend $50,000 funding a Supplemental Environmental Project and to develop a compliance and ethics program.

The company spilled ammonia into the river in July 2005 when two workers left a water hose in a 55-gallon drum, causing the ammonia to overflow into a storm drain and contaminate the river.

The ensuing contamination killed more than 14,000 fish in the river.

Cabot spokeswoman Roberta MacDonald says the company did wrong but came clean about it immediately and has been up front with authorities all the way.

She says the company wants to serve as an example and help other workers who deal with refrigeration so that they don’t make a similar mistake.

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