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Air Conditioning in N.C. Pled Guilty to Venting Ozone-Depleting Refrigerants

Release Date: 01/31/2003
Contact Information:

Teresa Libera 202-564-7873/

(01/31/03) On Jan. 21, Gerald Haywood Butler and Timothy Wayne Parker, both of Fayetteville, N.C., and Theodore Alphonso Smith of Hope Mills, N.C., each pled guilty to violating the Clean Air Act. Each of the men engaged in ozone-depleting by releasing hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant HCFC-22 into the atmosphere. All three are employed as repairmen by J & J Maintenance at Ft. Bragg, N.C. J & J is responsible for maintaining the housing units at Ft. Bragg where each unit has a residential air conditioner. When the air conditioning units need repair or replacement, J & J employees are required by law to prevent HCFC-22 from being vented into the atmosphere. The defendants regularly failed to do this beginning in 1998 and continuing until November 2001. Ozone depleting substances damage the earth’s ozone layer which protects people from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet overexposure can lead to skin cancer, cataracts and weakened immune systems. It can also lead to reduced crop yield and disruptions in the marine food chain. When sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division’s Atlanta Area Office, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the Science and Ecosystems Support Division of EPA Region 4. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh.