Company agrees settlement with US on illegal CFC emissions from cryogenic facilities

Air Liquide America Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial and medical gases, such as super-cooled liquid oxygen and nitrogen, has agreed a settlement with the US regarding illegal emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from 22 facilities in 18 states, including a $4.5 million civil penalty.

The company, which is a subsidiary of L’Air Liquide, based in Paris, France, has agreed to convert all its 46 industrial CFC refrigeration systems to those using alternative ‘ozone-friendly’ refrigerants. The company was found to have exceeded the annual leak rate of 35% for large industrial cooling systems using CFC refrigerants, and had failed to test for or repair leaks.

As well as the civil penalty, the company will also be paying $500,000 for two environmental justice projects, one of which it will involve the dedication of an undeveloped parcel of land of ecological value to a low income community in Louisiana. The second project will involve the donation of a two-acre plot of land to Carlyss Fire Department in Louisiana.

“Air Liquide’s actions are an excellent example of co-operation between a company and the government to find a solution that averts further damage to the ozone layer and involves tangible measures that preserve an undisturbed area of land from future development,” said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman.

John Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, agreed. “We commend Air Liquide for its good faith in seeking to offset the past excessive leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerants by making these efforts to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances altogether,” he said.

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