US EPA steps up refrigerant regulation crack-down

The US EPA is stepping up its enforcement of its Refrigerant Regulations in an effort to protect the ozone layer and reduce skin cancers, cataracts and other harmful conditions.

The regulations were enacted in 1990 under the Clean Air Act to protect the layer of stratospheric ozone that shields the earth from solar UV-B radiation.

The increase in EPA enforcement actions in 1998 is accelerating in 1999 as part of a national strategy by the agency to strengthen enforcement of these regulations.

In addition, EPA is amending the regulations to include more complex required leak rate criteria, and extending them to the new substitute refrigerants.

This may be a surprise to many organizations that have installed substitute refrigerants under the impression that only ozone depleting refrigerants were going to be regulated by the EPA.

In a recent example of increasing enforcement actions, EPA sued New York City and the New York City Department of Sanitation in March 1999, charging that they have been in continuous violation since 1992 of the Refrigerant Regulations by knowingly releasing ozone-depleting refrigerants into the environment. The EPA is seeking civil penalties of up to $27,500 per day for the past seven years of violations.

“This lawsuit,” said the EPA, “exemplifies the federal government’s commitment to enforce the laws and regulations enacted to protect the crucial stratospheric ozone layer, to ensure compliance with the nation’s environmental laws.

“Given the City’s failure to properly address this important issue in the past, the federal government felt it necessary to pursue this legal action, and expects that it will result in increased environmental awareness on the part of City administrators.”

Environmental Support Solutions, has launched a new “EPA Refrigerant Regulations Compliance” training course to help organizations avoid violations, penalties, and fines. The course provides managers with the information they need to understand EPA requirements, including all updates, changes, and proposed amendments.

Participants will also learn how to develop and implement an “EPA Title VI Refrigerant Compliance Program” for their organization to insure current and future compliance.

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