If you’re in the business of food processing or distribution or use refrigerants as part of your work, take care that they are properly maintained and are within federal compliance guidelines. Recently, two Seattle area seafood processing plants settled a court case filed against them for violations of federal clean air regulations for use of ozone-depleting refrigerants.
In addition to terminating their use of the non-compliant refrigerants, the two companies must enact leak detection and repair policies aboard their fishing vessels and pay penalties in restitution for their violations of the Clean Air Act. For three years, American Seafoods Company and Pacific Longline Company illegally imported the refrigerant R-22 for use on fishing vessels and used quantities of the materials that are beyond the United States limit. They were also cited for failing to repair refrigeration leaks in a reasonable about of time, failure to maintain records of repairs, and use of uncertified refrigeration employees. A $700,000 penalty has been imposed and restitution payments between $9-15 million dollars will be used to offset environmental damage and convert the non-compliant vessels.
The Environmental Protection Agency noted that the use of select refrigerants is not a compliance problem but rather how the cooling materials are maintained, stored, and used so that releases into the ozone are kept to a minimum.
Ozone depletion allows increased levels of ultraviolet radiation to come in contact with the Earth and is associated with skin cancer, immune system damage, and cataracts in humans and animals and can also negatively impact crops, vegetation, and ocean life.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your business uses refrigeration make sure your methods and systems are compliant with your local and federal regulations. Failure to address this will not only damage the environment but can also land you in hot water!