Revised Section 608 Refrigerant Management Regulations
On February 26, 2020, EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler signed the final rule Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant Management Program’s Extension to Substitutes. This action rescinds the November 18, 2016, extension of the leak repair provisions to appliances using substitute refrigerants, such has hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The leak repair requirements and associated recordkeeping and reporting provisions prescribed in EPA’s November 2016 rulemaking for appliances containing substitutes no longer apply. At this time, the leak repair provisions only apply to ozone-depleting refrigerants. This action does not rescind the applicability of the other provisions that were extended to certain substitute refrigerants (e.g., HFCs) such as the sales restriction and technician certification requirement, safe disposal requirements, evacuation requirements, reclamation standards, and requirement to use certified recovery equipment. This action also does not affect any of the requirements for appliances containing ozone-depleting refrigerants.
2020 Rule Summary:
- This rule modifies refrigerant management regulations for substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs. This does not affect the current requirements for ozone-depleting refrigerants and does not affect the Clean Air Act prohibition on intentionally venting or otherwise knowingly releasing ozone-depleting and non-ozone depleting refrigerant (including HFCs) into the environment.
- Effective April 10, 2020, appliances with 50 or more pounds of substitute refrigerants are no longer subject to the requirements at 40 CFR 82.157, including:
- Repairing appliances that leak above a certain level and conducting verification tests on repairs;
- Periodically inspecting for leaks;
- Reporting chronically leaking appliances to the EPA;
- Retrofitting or retiring appliances that are not repaired; and
- Maintaining related records.
- The EPA is not rescinding the other refrigerant management provisions that were extended to non-ozone depleting refrigerants, including:
- Anyone purchasing refrigerant for use in a stationary appliance or handling refrigerants (such as air-conditioning and refrigeration service technicians) must be section 608-certified;
- Anyone removing refrigerant from a refrigeration or air-conditioning appliance must evacuate refrigerant to a set level using certified refrigerant recovery equipment before servicing or disposing of the appliance;
- The final disposer (such as scrap recyclers or landfills) of small appliances, like refrigerators and window air conditioners, must ensure and document that refrigerant is recovered; and
- All used refrigerant must be reclaimed to industry purity standards before it can be sold to another appliance owner.
- Fact Sheet: Overview of the Section 608 Refrigerant Management Program
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Supermarkets and Property and Facility Managers
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Refrigerant Distributors
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Small Appliance Recyclers
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Reclaimers
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Technicians
- Fact Sheet: How the Revised 608 Rule Affects Local Governments Involved in Appliance Disposal
2016 Rule Summary
On November 18, 2016, EPA issued a final rule updating its refrigerant management regulations. Amongst other things, that rule extended the refrigerant management requirements to common substitutes like HFCs. As noted above, the leak repair provisions for appliances containing substitute refrigerants no longer apply. Key changes include:
1) Extended the requirements of the Refrigerant Management Program to cover substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs. Note that EPA has previously exempted some substitutes from the Section 608 venting prohibition through previous rules. Such substitutes are also exempt from the requirements of this rule.
2) Lowered the leak rate thresholds that trigger the duty to repair refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant.
- Lowered from 35% to 30% for industrial process refrigeration (IPR)
- Lowered from 35% to 20% for commercial refrigeration equipment
- Lowered from 15% to 10% for comfort cooling equipment
3) Required quarterly/annual leak inspections or continuous monitoring devices for refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that have exceeded the threshold leak rate.
4) Required owners/operators to submit reports to EPA if systems containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant leak 125% or more of their full charge in one calendar year.
5) Extended the sales restriction to HFCs and other non-exempt substitutes, with the exception of small cans (containing 2 pounds or less) of non-exempt substitutes (e.g., primarily HFC-134a) for motor vehicle air conditioner servicing. These small cans can continue to be sold without technician certification so long as the small cans have a self-sealing valve to reduce refrigerant releases.
6) Required technicians to keep a record of refrigerant recovered during system disposal from systems with a charge size from 5–50 lbs.