EPA Cites Ritchie Engineering for Violations

July 27, 2001
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The U.S. Environmental Pro-tection Agency, Region 5 in Chicago, IL, has cited Ritchie Engineering for alleged violations of federal regulations on refrigerant recycling at the company’s equipment manufacturing plant in Garrett, IN.

The EPA citation, announced July 18, alleged Ritchie failed to have six of its refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment models certified by an approved equipment testing organization as required by federal regulations.

The company, which is headquartered in Bloomington, MN, countered by saying that its line of refrigerant recovery equipment “has always been fully examined and certified as complying with all federal standards created under the Clean Air Act,” according to a statement it released on July 20.

According to the company statement, the EPA alleged that certain Ritchie models had not been tested and certified by independent testing organizations. But the company statement said that “designs used by Ritchie in its products have all been thoroughly examined and tested by ARI and later by Underwriters Laboratories, and have been certified by both organizations to fully comply with applicable federal standards.”

The manufacturer indicated the situation might relate to a question of paperwork.

“It appears EPA is attacking the retrievability of our record-keeping and that of our testing organization,” said Ritchie Engineering president Steve Ritchie. “Appar-ently the paper trail was not, at first glance, clear and direct enough to satisfy the EPA.”

Ritchie said documentation exists and “is available to refute and dispel these allegations, and to prove the past and present certifications of all Ritchie designs.”

The products cited in the EPA report are:

  • R50a, which uses a 1/3-hp oil-less compressor and a 200 mesh particulate filter and is designed for 115V electrical;
  • R53a, which has the same features as the R50a, but is designed for 230V electrical;
  • R62a, which has a ½ -hp oil-less direct drive compressor and runs on 115V;
  • R70a, which is a 115V automatic version of the R60a unit;
  • R72a, which is similar to the R70a but with a tank overfill sensor and switch;
  • and

  • R73a, which is similar to the R70a but for use with 230V.

    In a separate matter, the EPA alleged that the company failed to properly label its models R30a (which uses a 1/6-hp hermetic compressor at 115V), R50a, R53a, R62a, R72a, and R73a.

  • In response, the manufacturer said in a statement: “EPA Region 5 had previously alleged that Ritchie equipment labels did not fully comply with the labeling requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, regarding categories of appliances. Ritchie labels conformed to language long advocated by EPA’s Office of Stratospheric Ozone Protection. EPA Region 5 took a different interpretation.”

    Further, the manufacturer said, “EPA and Ritchie reached a compromise in that dispute, by which Ritchie labels now feature both the language demanded by Region 5 and that advocated by the Office of Stratospheric Ozone Protection.”

    EPA said it learned of the alleged violations from a company response to an EPA request for information.

    This is a preliminary finding of violations. To resolve the violations, EPA said it might issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty, or bring suit against the company. The company had 20 days from receipt of the notice to hold a meeting with EPA to discuss the allegations and how to resolve them.

    “Ritchie takes great pride in the designs and performance of our products,” said Steve Ritchie. “We also hold great respect for the federal laws governing the recovery and recycling of refrigerants. These very laws mandate the existence of our industry.”

    Publication date: 07/30/2001

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