EPA Region 3 1998 Ozone Protection Enforcement Actions
March 24, 1998
PHILADELPHIA--A national strategy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen enforcement of federal CFC regulations is gaining momentum here in the mid-Atlantic region. Since last November, 30 parties have been named in actions taken by EPA's mid-Atlantic office in Philadelphia, a notable increase compared to a total of 11 CFC-related actions done in the region during fiscal year 1997.
The EPA regulates the use of environmentally-harmful chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, commonly used in air conditioning and refrigeration appliances.
Several EPA actions against companies that violated the law included court settlements totaling $81,213 in penalties to be paid to the government. The majority of the 30 actions are for violations of certification requirements frequently ignored, but which the agency says are needed to prevent damage from the release of CFCs. By law, businesses that repair, service and scrap air conditioning systems and appliances containing CFCs must register with the EPA and certify that they are following federally-approved procedures.
The most recent action is an order issued March 20 by EPA to the City of Baltimore for alleged CFC violations by the city's fleet management division. EPA alleges that city workers improperly installed an alternative air conditioning refrigerant in vehicles owned by the city, and has ordered Baltimore's fleet management division to perform proper retrofits or go back to using the original refrigerant.
Other noteworthy cases include (links lead to more information about each case):
- In January, EPA cited the U.S. Treasury for Clean Air Act violations at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Among the alleged violations, EPA charged that Mint employees serviced air conditioners and water coolers without using required CFC recovery and recycling equipment, and that the Mint used an uncertified technician. Also, EPA's complaint alleged that the Mint failed to evacuate CFCs to required levels before servicing equipment containing refrigerants. EPA is seeking a $129,400 fine for these and other alleged violations.
- In January, EPA settled a case against a West Virginia company that voluntarily reported its violations to the agency. Pete's Refrigeration of Bluefield, Mercer County, reported using an unapproved refrigerant to repair air conditioning systems in vehicles. Because the company voluntarily disclosed its violations, EPA reduced penalties by 75 percent to $4,250. Pete's Refrigeration would have been liable for a $17,000 penalty.
- Under a $30,000 settlement in January with the EPA, S.D. Richman Sons Inc., a scrap metal company in Philadelphia, is now in compliance with federal CFC regulations.
- Tamiment Resort & Conference Center, of Tamiment, Pa., will pay the government $21,600 under an agreement made with the EPA in December to resolve violations relating to the repair of appliances.
- In January, EPA cited the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the major public transportation service in Philadelphia, for alleged CFC violations. EPA found that SEPTA failed to properly certify some of its equipment used to service air conditioning systems on its buses and trains, and that some SEPTA technicians were inadequately certified. EPA ordered SEPTA to correct the violations.
- Last December, an administrative law judge ordered Tower Central Inc., of Wheeling, W.Va., to pay a $25,363 penalty for improperly servicing air conditioners in vehicles.
- Last December, EPA cited the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia for failing to keep service records for several large "chillers" or air conditioning units. EPA ordered the VA Center to cease maintenance and service on the chillers until the center developed a policy to maintain the units properly.
- Included in EPA's actions for certification violations, 19 automobile service stations throughout Virginia have received EPA orders to register and certify with the EPA their equipment used to service air conditioning systems in vehicles. EPA sent the orders in early March.