Trader Joe’s Settles Refrigerant Allegations
U.S. alleged Trader Joe’s had violated Title VI of the Clean Air Act (CAA)
MONROVIA, Calif. — Trader Joe’s Co., based in Monrovia, California, reached a settlement in June with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the company’s management of refrigerants.
The U.S. had alleged that Trader Joe’s failed to properly perform leak repair and recordkeeping required under Title VI of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the refrigeration equipment in its grocery stores. Specifically, regulations found at 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F, Recycling and Emission Reductions, require owner and operators of systems using ozone depleting substances (ODSs) to reduce the use and emission of ODSs to their “lowest achievable level” and “maximize the recapture and recycling of such substances.”
In addition, the EPA had alleged that Trader Joe’s failed to provide a complete response to an information request in violation of Section 114 of the CAA.
There are several components of injunctive relief and mitigation in the settlement. They are:
• Trader Joe’s must implement a refrigerant compliance management plan that provides for better management of refrigerant repairs and leaks. The plan includes compliance tools, such as advanced monitoring and electronic reporting;
• Trader Joe’s must achieve a company-wide average refrigerant leak rate that is at or below 12.1 percent in calendar years 2017, 2018, and 2019;
• At all new stores and major remodels, Trader Joe’s must use only refrigerant that is non-ozone-depleting and has a low global warming potential (GWP); and
• At 15 new stores or major remodels, Trader Joe’s will conduct a pilot research project using low-GWP refrigerants, such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
The company also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $500,000.
This is the first EPA settlement with requirements to repair leaks of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly one-quarter of Trader Joe’s refrigerant appliances use HFC refrigerants. The settlement obligations cover equipment using HFC refrigerants that are non-ozone-depleting but have a GWP in the 3,900-4,700 range.
Trader Joe’s has estimated the cost to implement the injunctive relief and mitigation required by this settlement to be $2 million.
According to the EPA, as of Sept. 22, a consent decree had not yet been entered into; therefore, Trader Joe’s is under no legal obligation to meet the terms of the agreement. However, in a prepared statement, company leaders said, “Trader Joe’s looks forward to working with the EPA in its mission to reduce air pollution and protect the ozone layer and, with this agreement, has committed to reducing its emissions to a rate that matches the best of the industry.”
Trader Joe’s is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores in the U.S. The company currently owns or operates approximately 461 stores, of which almost 40 percent are in California with the heaviest concentration in Southern California. The company also has locations in 42 other states and in Washington, District of Columbia.
For information about ozone-depleting substances, visit http://bit.ly/2cMEnAH. For information from the EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership about estimating fugitive greenhouse gas emissions from equipment such as commercial refrigeration equipment, visit http://bit.ly/2da1c3O. And, for information about the EPA’s GreenChill best practices for commercial refrigeration retrofits, visit http://bit.ly/2dmYKn0.
Publication date: 10/3/2016