WASHINGTON — Safeway, a national grocery chain, will pay a $600,000 civil penalty in a settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice.

The settlement resolves allegations that Safeway violated the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) by failing to promptly repair leaks of HCFC-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon used as a coolant in refrigerators, and failed to keep adequate records of the servicing of its refrigeration equipment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Safeway will implement a corporate-wide plan to significantly reduce its emissions of ozone depleting substances from refrigeration equipment at 659 of its stores nationwide, estimated to cost approximately $4.1 million.

The settlement involves the largest number of facilities ever under the CAA’s regulations governing refrigeration equipment.

Safeway will now implement a corporate refrigerant compliance management system to comply with stratospheric ozone regulations. In addition, Safeway will reduce its corporate-wide average leak rate from 25 percent in 2012 to 18 percent or below in 2015. The company will also reduce the aggregate refrigerant emissions at its highest-emission stores by 10 percent each year for three years. “Safeway’s new corporate commitment to reduce air pollution and help protect the ozone layer is vital and significant,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Fixing leaks, improving compliance, and reducing emissions will make a real difference in protecting us from the dangers of ozone depletion, while reducing the impact on climate change.”

EPA regulations issued under Title VI of the CAA require that owners or operators of commercial refrigeration equipment containing more than 50 pounds of ozone depleting refrigerants, and that has an annual leak rate greater than 35 percent, repair such leaks within 30 days.

Pursuant to the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. is implementing strict reductions of ozone depleting refrigerants, including a production and importation ban by 2020 of HCFC-22.

The settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including large grocery stores.
Corporate commitments to reduce emissions from refrigeration systems have been increasing in recent years. EPA’s GreenChill Partnership Program works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change by transitioning to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, using less refrigerant and eliminating leaks, and adopting green refrigeration technologies and best environmental practices.

Publication date: 10/28/2013 

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!