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EPA ACTIONS AGAINST A/C SERVICE/DISPOSAL FIRMS FOR CFC RELEASES

Release Date: 11/17/1999
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA,(415) 744-1578

SOUTHERN CALIF. FIRM FACES $97,900 PENALTY; ARIZ., HAWAII FIRMS CITED  

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced enforcement actions against a fast-food restaurant chain in California, a residential air conditioning service company in Arizona, a motor vehicle air conditioning service shop in Hawaii, and a recycling/disposal business in Hawaii for Clean Air Act regulations regarding handling and disposal of stratospheric ozone-depleting chemicals.  EPA's complaint against the San Clemente, California-based Pick Up Stix Inc. carries a proposed penalty of $97,900 for multiple violations.  In a separate case, Emmet AirConditioning and Refrigeration of Phoenix, Ariz. agreed to pay a penalty of $2,227 for a single violation.  EPA also issued compliance orders to Fukushima Auto Center Inc. of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Island Recycling Inc. of Honolulu.
       
     "The release of ozone-depleting substances is restricted under the Clean Air Act because they harm the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects all life on earth from ultraviolet radiation," said Dave Howekamp, director of EPA's western regional Air Division.  "Companies that deal with air conditioning equipment have an important responsibility in this regard because refrigerants like Freon-12 are some of the worst ozone-depleters.  The regulations require companies and individuals who service or dispose of air conditioners in appliances or motor vehicles to be properly trained and equipped to prevent release of ozone-depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere."
           
     Pick Up Stix Management Inc. owns restaurants in Southern California and Las Vegas,Nevada.  The company services refrigeration equipment at each of its restaurants.  An EPA investigation revealed that Pick Up Stix failed to use required refrigerant recovery or recycling equipment when opening appliances, and failed to have all service work involving refrigerant done by certified technicians.  Emmet Air Conditioning and Refrigeration services air conditioning equipment at residences.  EPA found that the company knowingly vented in the atomosphere CFC-12, also known as Freon-12, from a home a/c unit.
       
     Fukushima Auto Center Inc. services motor vehicle air conditioning systems (MVACs) at its facility in Pearl City, Hawaii.  EPA found that the facility failed to use required refrigerant recovery or recycling equipment, and failed to employ properly certified technicians.  EPA ordered the company to stop servicing MVACs until it is in compliance with the stratospheric ozone protection rules.
                           
     Island Recycling Inc. recycles and disposes of home air conditioners and refrigerators. As the final step in the disposal process, the company was responsible for ensuring that all of the refrigerant had been properly removed from the appliances before dismantling or disposal.  This can be done by either removing the refrigerant, or by properly verifying that the refrigerant has already been removed.  EPA found that the firm did not recover refrigerants, did not complain written verification that the refrigerant had been removed, and failed to notify their suppliers that they cannot accept appliances that still contain refrigerants.  EPA ordered the company to comply with the ozone protection regulations, and verify its compliance.
                           
     Production of CFCs was banned by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 because the deplete the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, which protects living things from harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Reductions in stratospheric ozone can cause increased skin cancers and eye cataracts, suppression of the immune system, and damage to plants, including crops, and aquatic organisms.  Currently available legal alternatives to CFCs and HCFCs include ozone-friendly substances like carbon dioxide and HFC-134a.  Persons interested in obtaining additional information about CFCs or HCFCs, or who would like to report suspected violations, are encouraged to call U.S. EPA's toll-free hotline at 1-800-296-1996 or visit U.S.  EPA's Internet site at www.epa.gov/ozone.
       

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