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EPA Environmental News

Contacts: Bonnie Lomax 215/814-5542

Terri White 215/814-5523

March 14, 1997; 97-134


PHILADELPHIA - An innovative court settlement would force a company

that violated environmental laws to remove harmful chemicals from old refrigerators at no cost to Philadelphia area residents.

That's a real benefit to homeowners who have trouble discarding an old refrigerator or air conditioner because they contain CFCs.

Under the proposed settlement filed this week by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice, Camden Iron and Metal, and its subsidiary, S.P.C. Corporation would be required to pay a civil penalty of $125,000 and to recycle CFCs from old appliances.

Camden/SPC will work with municipalities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland within a 50 mile radius of its south Philadelphia plant, to establish collection stations where appliances with refrigerants containing CFCs will be picked up and brought to the recycling plant. There CFCs will be properly removed from the appliances.

EPA Regional Administrator Michael McCabe hailed the environmental benefits of the settlement saying, "Controlling CFCs is essential to protecting public health and the environment. This settlement and innovative environmental project results in an appropriate penalty for past violations and a future benefit to the community by increasing access to proper refrigerant recovery where such access did not exist before."

Camden/SPC operates a large metal-shredding plant. According to an EPA complaint filed in April 1996, Camden/SPC failed to verify removal of CFCs from appliances before shredding them.

Lois Schiffer, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice praised the settlement, emphasizing that "the control of CFCs is vital to the protection of the ozone layer. The settlement achieves an excellent result, by penalizing Camden for its past misconduct and requiring Camden to undertake a supplemental environmental project which ensures that CFCs in the greater metropolitan Philadelphia area will be safely and lawfully removed from appliances."

The proposed recycling project is valued at $375,000.

CFCs are regulated nationally and internationally because of their potential to destroy ozone in the Earth's stratosphere, or ozone layer, which shields out harmful amounts of ultraviolet radiation. Ozone in the stratosphere, 20 miles above the earth filters out ultraviolet rays, which have been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and increased susceptibility to diseases. Agricultural crops and marine life are also harmed by radiation.

Ozone in the upper atmosphere produces a health benefit, ground-level ozone, a byproduct of auto and factory emissions, is a harmful chemical that can damage the lungs breathed.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public notice and comment period.

Communities interested in participating in the recycling project can contact: Daniel Lucero, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (215) 814-2994.

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