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U.S. EPA fines Bay Area auto dealer for air violations

Release Date: 10/02/2007
Contact Information: Marc Mowrey, (415) 972-3324

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined a Sunnyvale Ford dealership $37,700 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Sunnyvale Ford Inc, located at 650 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, failed to comply with federal requirements for mechanics who service and repair automobile air conditioning systems. Mechanics at the facility lacked the EPA-approved training required by Clean Air Act regulations.

“We know certain refrigerants deplete the ozone layer. It is important to prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the Air Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Mechanics who service these systems play a key role in preventing releases, and they must be properly trained.”

While there was no direct evidence of release of Freon into the atmosphere in this case, the Clean Air Act requires that air conditioning mechanics pass an EPA-certified training and testing course. The EPA training is required regardless of any other training or certification mechanics may have. The facility must also maintain adequate records to demonstrate EPA certification of their mechanics and refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment.

The training regulations help ensure the proper handling of ozone-depleting and global warming substances that go into a car’s air conditioner, thereby minimizing the release of these chemicals into the atmosphere. The adverse effects of ultra-violet radiation from a thinning ozone layer include skin cancers, cataracts and immune system suppression.

This is the fifth such case settled with the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office in the past 13 months. In January 2007, Towne Ford of Redwood City agreed to pay $22,000; and in September 2006, South City Motors of South San Francisco agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty and Hayward Ford of Hayward agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty; and in August 2006, Broadway Motors of Oakland agreed to pay a $5,416 penalty to settle similar cases with the EPA.

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