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Enviro-Safe Refrigerants Inc. of Pekin, Illinois, has agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty and cease marketing and sale of unapproved flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants as substitutes for ozone depleting substances (ODS). ODS are being phased out of production and importation because they deplete the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. As part of the United States’ transition away from ODS, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program evaluates and approves substitute refrigerants so that they can safely and legally replace ODS. EPA evaluates these potential substitute refrigerants according to health, safety and environmental criteria. The Clean Air Act addresses ODS and establishes standards and requirements where a substitute for an ODS is sought to be introduced to the marketplace.
According to the two-count complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement today in the Central District of Illinois, Enviro-Safe allegedly violated Clean Air Act requirements through the marketing and sale of two flammable hydrocarbon refrigerant products, ES 22a and ES 502a, as substitutes for ODS without providing the requisite information to EPA for review and approval. EPA has not approved any flammable hydrocarbon as a replacement for ODS in systems not specifically designed for flammable refrigerants and has warned that use of flammable refrigerants in those systems presents a risk of fire or explosion.
“With this settlement, Enviro-Safe will pay a penalty, stop its nationwide sales of unapproved flammable refrigerants and ozone depleting substances, and notify consumers of potential safety hazards from these products,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This civil action illustrates how the requirements of the Clean Air Act guard consumer safety and the health of our environment each and every day.”
“The actions Enviro-Safe will be required to take under this consent decree will protect consumers and the environment from a potentially dangerous product,” said Regional Administrator Susan Hedman of EPA.
In addition to paying a penalty and halting non-compliant sales, the company will also state on the label of any flammable refrigerant, its website and other marketing materials that the refrigerant is “flammable to an open flame or spark” and to “proceed with caution if used in systems designed for non-flammable refrigerants.” Labels must also include any use restrictions for approved substitutes. The company will notify by mail all known past customers that purchased products labeled “ES 12a,” “ES 22a” and “ES 502a” of potential safety hazards associated with such products.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.