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TWO FIRMS TO PAY PENALTIES FOR USING OZONE DEPLETING SUBSTANCES

Release Date: 12/3/1997
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578


U.S. EPA SETTLES CASES WITH FOAM MOLDERS IN CALIFORNIA, NEVADA

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that two plastic foam molding facilities, Universal Urethane Inc. of North Las Vegas, Nev., and Foam Molders & Specialties (FMS) of Cerritos, Calif., have agreed to pay penalties of $15,000 each to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act involving use of an ozone-depleting substance in the manufacture of plastic foam products.

     "The use of ozone-depleting substances is restricted under the Clean Air Act because they harm the earth's stratospheric ozone layer, which protects all life on the earth's surface from ultraviolet radiation," said Dave Howekamp, director of U.S. EPA's western regional Air Division.  "There are legal alternatives to ozone depleters available, and in use."

     U.S. EPA's complaints in these cases alleged that Universal Urethane and FMS used the chemical Hydrochloroflourocarbon-141b (HCFC-141b) to manufacture products like whirlpool bath spa pillows and cup holders made of plastic foam.  HCFC-141b is listed by U.S. EPA as a class II ozone depleting substance.  The Clean Air Act prohibits the use of such ozone depleters for nonessential products, including  plastic foam products. The regulations do, however, allow HCFC-141b in certain closed cell rigid foams used for insulation.

     Production of chloroflourocarbons, or CFC's, was banned by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 because they deplete the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, which protects living things from harmful ultraviolet radiation.  HCFC's such as HCFC-141b are also harmful to the stratospheric ozone layer, but to a lesser extent.  The Clean Air Act allows these substances for uses classified as essential.  Such products as spa pillows, foam cup holders, arm rests, and pads on exercise equipment do not fit this classification, so use of HCFC in their manufacture is illegal.  Currently available legal alternatives include ozone-friendly substances like water, pentane, and HFC's (hydroflourocarbons).

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