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Enforcement Actions under Title VI of the Clean Air Act

EPA has issued several regulations under Title VI of the Clean Air Act designed to protect the ozone layer and to provide for a smooth transition away from ozone-depleting substances.

EPA is also charged with enforcing these regulations. This page features information about enforcement actions, ranging from civil fines to criminal prosecutions. The Stratospheric Protection Division doesn't actually enforce the regulations; enforcement is performed within EPA by the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Please note the following:
  1. No information is presented here about ongoing investigations;
  2. Even for completed cases, this page represents only the most major cases; and
  3. Information comes from a variety of organizations, so it is not always formatted consistently.

If you suspect or witness unlawful releases of refrigerant or other violations of the Clean Air Act regulations, report an environmental violation to EPA.

Also see EPA's fugitives accused of violating environmental laws, including smuggling ozone-depleting substances, and evading arrest.


Black Market CFCs/HCFCs and You: A Criminal Combination


Past Enforcement Cases

1995-1998 | 1999-2001 | 2002-2004 | 2005-2007 | Present |

June 24, 2014: Air Conditioner Thief Pleads Guilty To Violating Clean Air Act  
Martin C. Eldridge III, 35, Columbus, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Clean Air Act when he cut the tubing on air conditioning units he was stealing and released a regulated refrigerant into the environment. Eldridge and others stole at least 49 air conditioner units between August and October 2013 in order to sell the copper and parts from the units at scrap yards. When he cut the tubing that connected the air conditioner to the business or residence, a refrigerant known as HCFC-22 was released. Under terms of the plea agreement, Eldridge will serve 31 months in federal prison. Following prison time, Eldridge will be under court supervision for 12 months during which time he must perform 200 hours of community service.
June 20, 2014: International Distributor Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced for Illegal Sale and Distribution of Refrigeration Equipment Containing Ozone Depleting Substances
eAir, LLC (eAir) was convicted and sentenced in federal court in Miami in connection with the illegal sale and distribution of air conditioning equipment containing the refrigerant gas, hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (HCFC-22). eAir was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $200,000 criminal fine. In addition, as a special condition of probation, eAir was ordered to implement and enforce a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan, to pay community service in the amount of $75,000, and to reimburse the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for costs incurred in storing illegal merchandise.  
September 4, 2013: Grocery store chain, Safeway, agrees to settlement regarding allegations that they failed to promptly repair leaks of HCFC-22 and failed to keep adequate records 
In a settlement agreement with the United States, Safeway, the nation’s second largest grocery store chain, has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty and implement a corporate-wide plan to significantly reduce its emissions of ozone-depleting substances from refrigeration equipment at 659 of its stores nationwide, estimated to cost approximately $4.1 million. The settlement involves the largest number of facilities ever under the Clean Air Act’s regulations governing refrigeration equipment. 
March 5, 2013: International supplier and distributor of AC/heating products and original allowance holder under the Clean Air Act, pleads guilty to charges related to smuggled ODS
 FSD Group, LLC, which also operates under the name Saez Distributors, pled guilty for knowingly receiving, buying, selling and facilitating the transportation, concealment, and sale of approximately 65,592 kilograms of the ozone-depleting substance hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (“HCFC-22") which had been illegally smuggled into the United States contrary to the Clean Air Act.
October 3, 2012: Miami Man Pleads Guilty in Illegal Refrigerant Smuggling Operation
Norberto Guada, 43, of Hialeah, Florida, pled guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Miami on charges of knowingly importing approximately 15,640 kilograms of illegal HCFC-22, contrary to the provisions of the Clean Air Act. Guada faces a possible sentence of up to twenty years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for December 11, 2012.
 
August 10, 2012: Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods Inc. agrees to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act resulting from leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerant
Icicle Seafood Inc. had a series of Clean Air Act violations between 2006 and 2008 associated with R-22 refrigerant. The violations include, failure to repair refrigerant leaks in a timely manner, failure to ensure adequate repairs to refrigeration appliances before resuming operation, failure to possess a certified refrigerant recovery device for use when performing service on refrigeration appliances, and inadequate records of repair service on refrigeration appliances.
June 26, 2012: International Product Support Company Senior Vice President Sentenced For The Illegal Purchase and Sale of Smuggled Ozone-Depleting Refrigerant Gas
Carlos A. Garcia of Miami, 52, was sentenced to a thirteen month term of imprisonment, followed by a two-year term of supervised release that includes four months of home confinement under electronic monitoring, for his role in the illegal receipt, purchase, and sale of ozone-depleting refrigerant gas that had been smuggled into the United States contrary to the Clean Air Act. Garcia was sentenced to.
May 3, 2012: Man Sentenced for Delivering A False Document Regarding Hazardous Material
Douglas Vincent Mertz, 38, received a $5,000 fine for delivering a false document regarding HCFC-22. In addition, he was sentenced to one year probation and restitution up to $750. Mertz advertised sale of R-22 on Craig’s list indicating and stated that “no EPA card or license” would be necessary to do business. Certification is required and ensures that individuals who work with ozone-depleting refrigerants like R-22 are trained to properly and safely handle these substances and minimize their release to the atmosphere.
June 14, 2012: Two Seattle-based seafood processors settle federal clean air violations for improper import and handling of ozone-depleting refrigerants
American Seafoods Co. LLC and Pacific Longline Co. LLC have agreed to a legal settlement that requires them to phase out the use of ozone-depleting refrigerants, improve shipboard refrigeration systems at a cost of at least $9 million, and pay a $700,000 penalty to resolve Clean Air Act violations, the Environmental Protection Agency said June 14 (United States v. American Seafoods Co., W.D. Wash., No. 2:12-cv-1040, 6/14/12). EPA said the litigation stemmed from the improper release and illegal import of ozone-depleting refrigerants.

April 11, 2012: International Product Support Company Senior Vice President Pleads Guilty to the Illegal Purchase and Sale of Smuggled Ozone-Depleting Refrigerant Gas
Carlos Garcia, 52, pled guilty to Count 4 of the Superseding Indictment, which charged him with knowingly receiving, buying, selling and facilitating the transportation, concealment, and sale of approximately 13,600 kilograms of the ozone-depleting substance hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (HCFC-22). HCFC-22 is a widely used refrigerant for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems. Garcia’s employer, Mar-Cone Appliance Parts Co. (Marcone), was previously convicted and sentenced for related conduct and ordered to pay a $500,000 criminal fine, a $400,000 community service payment, and was ordered to forfeit to the United States $190,534.70 in illegal proceeds. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 26, 2012. Garcia faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.
October 18, 2011: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., to Pay $300,000 Civil Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations at St. Joseph, Mo., Facility
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., (BIV), has agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty to the United States to settle a series of alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its veterinary health products facility in St. Joseph, Mo. The complaint alleges that the facility’s annualized leak rates of one or more of its industrial refrigeration systems exceeded 35 percent on one or more occasions during a five-year period. It also alleges BIV failed to perform leak testing and follow-up verification tests, failed to develop retrofit or retirement plans for leaking equipment, failed to complete retrofit or replacement of leaking equipment, and failed to maintain proper service and maintenance records for its equipment. BIV has agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty in settlement of the violations, and perform a series of injunctive relief actions at its St. Joseph facility. Additionally, BIV has agreed to replace refrigeration equipment at its Fort Dodge, Iowa, facility, switching older equipment that use ozone-depleting substances for new units that do not use ozone-depleting substances.
October 17, 2011: Oregon Seafood company fined for failing to track ozone-depleting refrigerants
From July 2006 to August 2007, Da Yang serviced their blast freezer at least 22 times and failed to properly document the dates of service. Keeping detailed records, including properly documenting the date of maintenance and service, helps identify leaks or other releases of HCFCs into the environment. Da Yang has recently taken steps to improve their refrigeration maintenance program. They have purchased certified refrigerant recovery equipment and trained two employees as certified refrigerant technicians.
September 28, 2011: Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods Inc. in Ward Hill, Mass. Cited for Clean Air Act Violations
Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods Inc., a food manufacturing company, faces a possible $108,320 fine for 12 violations of the federal Clean Air Act. According to a complaint filed by EPA’s New England office, the company violated regulations under the federal Clean Air Act that establish requirements for the service, maintenance, repair, and disposal of industrial process refrigeration equipment that contains ozone-depleting refrigerant. At the Ward Hill facility, Cedar’s runs an industrial refrigerator that contains 8,000 pounds of the refrigerant R-22. EPA inspected the Ward Hill facility in July 2010, and identified that Cedar’s only refrigeration unit violated federal air regulations, including requirements to repair leaks, to perform initial and follow-up tests after repairing leaks and to keep equipment servicing records. EPA ordered Cedar’s to remedy these violations.
July 29, 2011: Miami Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Refrigerant Smuggling
Brendan Clery was sentenced to 18 months in prison for illegally importing HCFC-22, contrary to the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA). In addition, he was ordered to pay a $40,000 criminal fine and forfeit illegal proceeds in the amount of $935,240. Between June and August 2007, Clery illegally smuggled into the United States approximately 278,256 kilograms, or 20,460 cylinders, of restricted HCFC-22, with a market value of $1,438,270. At no time did Clery or his company Lateral Investments hold unexpended consumption allowances that would have allowed them to legally import the refrigerant. This case is part of a larger criminal investigation known as "Operation Catch-22." It was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Criminal Investigation Bureau, and prosecuted by special assistant U. S. Attorney Jodi A. Mazer.
March 23, 2011: Refrigeration Company Pays Penalty for Environmental Violations in 3 Mass. Facilities
Preferred Freezer Services, a refrigerated warehouse company, has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a case brought by the EPA for Clean Air Act violations at three cold-storage facilities in Massachusetts. EPA’s New England office alleged that three facilities failed to certify to EPA that they had appropriate CFC recovery or recycling equipment. Further, at two of the facilities, a company technician serviced appliances containing CFCs on various occasions without being certified by an approved certification program.
February 24, 2011: Metal Management West, Inc. to pay $75,000 for alleged Clean Air Act ozone rule violations
EPA and Metal Management West, Inc. have entered into a consent agreement in which Metal Management will pay a $75,000 penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s program to prevent releases of ozone depleting chemicals. Metal Management is a scrap metal operator in Salt Lake City, Utah. EPA alleged that between April 2004 and September 2006, Metal Management accepted appliances and motor vehicles without verification that the refrigerant had been properly removed in accordance with the EPA regulations.
February 11, 2011: Harp USA Inc. Pleads Guilty and Is Sentenced for False Statements in the Importation of HCFC-22
Harp pled guilty to knowingly and intentionally introducing into the U.S. approximately 25,497 kilograms of HCFC-22 using false invoices and statements. HCFC-22 is a widely used refrigerant for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems. Harp was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $206,140 criminal fine. Harp was also ordered to perform community service by making a $25,000 payment to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Training Fund, a not-for-profit training organization. In addition, as a special condition of probation, Harp was ordered to implement and enforce an Environmental Compliance Plan and to reimburse the government for costs associated with the storage and handling of the merchandise. Finally, Harp was ordered to forfeit to the United States $206,140, which represents proceeds received as a result of the crime.
November 3, 2010: Mass. Plumbing Supply Company Cited for Illegal Sales of Refrigerant
Based on the findings of an undercover inspector, EPA has proposed a penalty of $30,000 against a Fall River plumbing and supply company charged with selling ozone-depleting refrigerants in violation of federal regulations. According to EPA’s New England office, Robinson Plumbing and Heating Supply, Co. sold ozone-depleting refrigerants to non-certified technicians at two separate sales outlets in Massachusetts, in violation of the Clean Air Act. EPA regulations restrict the sale of ozone-depleting refrigerant to persons who are trained and certified, or otherwise properly regulated, in order to limit illegal releases that would further damage the stratospheric ozone layer.
July 15, 2010: City of Tacoma settles for nearly $525,000 for release of ozone-depleting gases
The city of Tacoma, WA will pay nearly $225,000 in penalties for the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) stemming from its refrigerated appliance disposal service, according to a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The city will also pay nearly $300,000 for new pollution-reduction projects in Tacoma. From October 2004 to August 2007, the City of Tacoma Solid Waste Management Division processed more than 14,600 appliances to recover refrigerants. Due to a flawed purging process, an estimated 4,600 pounds of refrigerant was released to the environment, according to the consent decree. The CFCs released in this case are equivalent to 32,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, or approximately 530,000 roundtrip commutes between Tacoma and Seattle.
March 19, 2010: Mar-Cone Appliance Parts Company Convicted and Sentenced for Illegal Purchase and Sale of HCFC-22
Mar-Cone Appliance Parts Co. (Marcone) was convicted and sentenced today in connection with the illegal receipt, purchase, and sale of approximately 100,898 kilograms of HCFC-22, which had been illegally smuggled into the United States contrary to the Clean Air Act. Marcone was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $500,000 criminal fine. Marcone was also ordered to perform community service by making a $400,000 payment to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Training Fund, a not-for-profit training organization. In addition, as a special condition of probation, Marcone was ordered to implement and enforce a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan. Finally, Marcone was ordered to forfeit to the United States $190,534.70, which represents proceeds received as a result of the crime. This matter, as well as others involving the smuggling and distribution of ozone-depleting substances, are being investigated through a multi-agency initiative known as Operation Catch-22.
February 11, 2010: Kroy Corporation and James Garrido Sentenced for Illegal Ozone Depleting Substance Operation
After pleading guilty in November 2009 to three counts of knowingly importing illegal HCFC-22 in violation of the provisions of the Clean Air Act (see story below), James Garrido was sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Kroy Corp. was sentenced to five years of probation. Additionally, Garrido and Kroy were sentenced, jointly and severally, to pay a criminal fine of $40,000, and were further ordered to forfeit $1,356,160 to the United States. In addition, an associate working for Kroy and Garrido, Amador Hernandez, of Miami, pled guilty to charges of making false statements and declarations on Customs entry forms to disguise the illegal merchandise being imported.
January 27, 2010: Businessman Convicted for Evading $1.9 Million in Taxes on Sales of ODS
Dov Shellef, a businessman from Great Neck, N.Y., was convicted on 86 counts, following a five-week jury trial, for conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service in the collection of approximately $1.9 million in excise taxes due on sales of the ozone-depleting greenhouse gas known as CFC-113. The jury sitting in Central Islip, N.Y., also convicted Shellef for subscribing to false corporate tax returns, wire fraud and money laundering. Shellef faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for the conspiracy, three years for the false corporate tax return, 20 years for the wire fraud convictions and 20 years for the money laundering convictions.
January 26, 2010: EPA fines Service Supply of Victoria, Inc. for illegally importing HCFC-22
Service Supply of Victoria, Inc., a supplier of plumbing, HVAC, and industrial supplies located in Victoria, Texas, was fined $12,500 for illegally importing HCFC-22 into the U.S. In 2007, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office seized 7,517 cylinders (102,231 kg) of HCFC-22 from Service Supply of Victoria, Inc. EPA Region 6 allowed the HCFC-22 that was seized to be exported to another country that is permitted to import HCFC-22 under the terms of the Montreal Protocol.
November 23, 2009: Kroy Corporation and James Garrido Plead Guilty to Illegal Smuggling of HCFC-22
James Garrido and Kroy Corporation each pled guilty to three counts of knowingly importing illegal HCFC-22 in violation of the provisions of the Clean Air Act. In all, from 2007 to April 2009, Kroy and Garrido illegally imported approximately 1,418,654 kilograms of restricted HCFC-22 in eleven separate shipments. Defendant Garrido faces a possible statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of $250,000 on each count. The statutory maximum fine for Kroy Corporation is $500,000 per count. Garrido also faces a term of supervised release of three years per count of conviction, while Kroy Corporation may be placed on probation for up to five years per count.
November 4, 2009: A and B Metal Recycling agrees to EPA order; will comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to A & B Metal Recycling to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. A & B has agreed to recover ozone-depleting refrigerants from each appliance and motor vehicle air conditioner that it accepts or to verify that the refrigerants have been recovered according to EPA regulations. The company will keep a log of the details of refrigerant recovery.
November 2, 2009: Three Minnesota Companies Agree to comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued administrative consent orders to to three Minnesota scrap metal recycling companies – Leroy Iron and Metal Division of Behr Iron, Alter Trading Corp. and Timm’s Auto Salvage. The companies have agreed, among other things, to recover ozone-depleting refrigerants from each appliance and motor vehicle air conditioner that they accept or to verify that the refrigerants have been recovered according to EPA regulations. The companies will keep logs of the details of refrigerant recovery.
October 22, 2009: Illinois company agrees to EPA order: will comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to Cleveland Corp. to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. EPA cited Cleveland Corp. last November alleging the company was in violation of federal regulations because it did not recover refrigerants and did not obtain proper verification statements from suppliers of small appliances.
October 22, 2009: Toy's Scrap and Salvage agrees to EPA order; will comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to Toy's Scrap and Salvage Corp. to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Toy's has agreed, among other things, to contract with third parties to properly recover any remaining ozone-depleting refrigerant from each small appliance and motor vehicle air conditioner it accepts or to verify that the refrigerant has been properly removed. The company will keep a log of the details of refrigerant recovery.
October 21, 2009: Milwaukee company agrees to EPA order; will comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to Midwest Iron and Metal to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. EPA cited Midwest Iron and Metal in February alleging the company was in violation of federal regulations because it did not recover refrigerant and did not obtain proper verification statements from suppliers of small appliances.
October 21, 2009: Five Cleveland companies agree to EPA orders to comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued administrative consent orders to five Cleveland, Ohio, scrap metal recycling companies - All City Recycling Inc., JBI Scrap Processors Inc., Brookside Auto Parts Inc., All Scrap Salvage Co. Inc., and Aetna Recycling. The companies agreed, among other things, to take steps to ensure that the refrigerants in all appliances they process have been recovered according to EPA regulations. The companies will be responsible for recovering the refrigerant from the appliances they accept for recycling.
October 19, 2009: BASF Corporation Agrees to Clean Air Act Upgrades to Protect Stratospheric Ozone
BASF Corporation has agreed, under a Clean Air Act settlement, to reduce the use of refrigerant chemicals that destroy the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. The company will spend more than an estimated $250,000 to retrofit one refrigeration unit that currently uses HCFCs, replacing them with environmentally-friendly alternatives, and will either retrofit or retire two other units. BASF will also pay a civil penalty of $384,200 to resolve allegations that the company violated Clean Air Act regulations by preventing excessive leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerants from industrial coolers at BASF’s plants.
October 6, 2009: EPA reaches agreement with Metal Recycling Systems on clean-air violations 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached an agreement with Metal Recycling Systems Inc. on alleged clean-air violations at the company’s scrap recycling facility. The agreement, which includes a $30,000 penalty and an environmental project costing $30,000, resolves EPA allegations that MRS failed to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. In March 2008, EPA cited MRS for failing to recover or to verify recovery of ozone-depleting refrigerants from small appliances that it accepted and processed at its facility. EPA discovered the alleged violations during a January 2008 facility inspection and a subsequent request for information.
August 13, 2009: Auto and Scrap Recyclers agrees to EPA order to comply with Clean Air Act
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to Auto and Scrap Recyclers to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer at the company's scrap metal recycling facility. EPA cited Auto and Scrap last December for alleged violations of EPA regulations requiring recovery of ozone-depleting refrigerants from small appliances before they are recycled.
July 16, 2009: Midway Iron agrees to EPA order to comply with federal rules to protect stratospheric ozone
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued an administrative consent order to Midway Iron and Metals Inc. to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.  EPA alleges that Midway Iron accepted small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning units and crushed them without properly verifying that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants were removed before they were crushed and sent for recycling. Midway agrees, among other things, to begin recovering any remaining refrigerant from each appliance and motor vehicle air conditioning unit or to verify that the refrigerant has been previously removed from the appliances.
December 1, 2008: PVC Manufacturers Agree to Reduce Air Pollutants and Strengthen Control of Hazardous Wastes
Shintech, Inc. and its subsidiary K-Bin, Inc., have agreed in a settlement by the Justice Department and EPA to spend $4.8 million to comply with the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at their manufacturing facilities in Freeport, Texas. The companies’ actions will reduce harmful chlorofluorocarbon emissions and improve hazardous waste management at these facilities beyond the requirements imposed by environmental laws. The companies also have agreed to pay a $2.585 million civil penalty to resolve environmental violations under the Clean Air Act, RCRA, and the Clean Water Act, and to perform $4.7 million worth of supplemental environmental projects.
August 19, 2008: EPA fines Imperial Toy for selling ozone-depleting novelty confetti string product
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Imperial Toy LLC, located in North Hills, CA, $66,180 for selling "Spray-A-String," which contained R-22, an ozone-depleting substance.
July 8, 2008: Bristol-Myers Squibb agrees to Clean Air Act upgrades
Bristol-Myers Squibb, an international pharmaceutical manufacturer, has agreed to reduce the output of ozone-depleting refrigerants at multiple industrial facilities around the country at a combined cost of $3.65 million to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act.
March 18, 2008: EPA reaches agreement with Kerry on clean-air violations
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached an agreement with Kerry Inc. on alleged violations of EPA regulations to protect stratospheric ozone at the company's bread crumb manufacturing plant in Millstadt, Ill. The agreement, which includes a $169,822 penalty and an $811,097 environmental project, resolves EPA allegations that Kerry failed to repair refrigeration equipment that leaked excessive amounts of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. In addition, EPA said the company violated testing, notification, retrofitting, replacement and retirement planning requirements for the equipment.

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