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SLC hotel charged for releasing ozone damaging CFCs

Release Date: 6/14/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6912,

Release Date: 6/14/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-7815,

Release Date: 6/14/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 800-227-8917 x6603

      SALT LAKE CITY – In an administrative complaint filed today the owners of a Salt Lake City hotel were charged with allegedly violating Clean Air Act (CAA) rules covering stratospheric ozone protection, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The complaint seeks $216,600 in damages from the current and former owners of Airport Inn and Suites for the violations which occurred in August 2000. EPA received information from a former Airport Inn employee that 20 room air conditioner units and seven small refrigerators were removed from the hotel and the refrigerant lines were cut, venting ozone-depleting CFCs into the air. Proper removal of the refrigerant prior to disposal of the units would have cost the hotel operators about $2,700 or $100.00 per unit.

EPA issued a complaint alleging 27 violations of the CAA against Lightfoot’s Inc., the hotel owner at the time of the incident, and MBT, the present owner, which purchased the hotel from Lightfoot’s about a month after the incident. The complaint alleges:
illegal releases of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the air,
improper disposal of appliances,
failure to capture the CFC refrigerant from the appliances using certified CFC recovery/recycling equipment, and
failure to use an EPA certified technician to remove the refrigerant.

The ozone layer is located in the upper atmosphere 30 miles above the earth’s surface. This layer of gas screens us from the sun’s powerful and harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can lead to sunburn, cataracts and skin cancer. Also, increased radiation can damage important food crops and marine ecosystems.

Scientists worldwide have concluded that CFCs damage the stratospheric ozone layer, which already is significantly depleted over Antarctica, and, to a lesser extent, over North America, Europe and other populated areas. When allowed to escape into the air, the CFC molecule breaks apart releasing chlorine, which then attacks the earth’s protective ozone layer. A single chlorine atom can destroy more than 100,000 ozone molecules.

Since 1993, the CAA has banned the release of refrigerants containing CFCs during the service, maintenance and disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Prior to disposal, the refrigerant must be removed from the appliance by EPA certified technicians using approved CFC recovery/recycling equipment.

EPA will continue unannounced inspections at facilities where the service or repair of air conditioning systems are subject to the CFC regulations. Some of these businesses operate from residential homes, which EPA will inspect as well. EPA learned of this incident through information furnished by a private citizen, who now could receive a monetary reward. The CAA allows persons who provide information that leads to successful prosecution and penalty recovery to be eligible for an award of up to $10,000. Final compensation determination is made by EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The current and former owners of the hotel have 30 days to respond to the allegations. EPA encourages respondents to enter into informal settlement conferences.

Questions about ozone depletion or EPA rules concerning CFCs may be directed to the Agency’s Stratospheric Ozone Hotline at 800-296-1996.