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EPA ANNOUNCES LARGEST SETTLEMENT UNDER THE OZONE PROTECTION PROGRAM OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT

Release Date: 09/11/2000
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, harris-young.dawn@epa.gov
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today an agreement with Meyer's Bakery, in Little Rock, AR, to settle outstanding claims for violations of the Clean Air Act regarding the protection of the stratospheric ozone for $3.5 million in penalties. This settlement is the largest settlement in the history of the EPA stratospheric ozone protection program.

This agreement sets a new precedent for EPA enforcement of leak repair regulations at industrial facilities. EPA is committed to increasing its oversight of these facilities to achieve greater compliance with the regulations to ensure protection of public health and the environment.

"Essentially, Meyer's Bakery allowed thousands of pounds of refrigerant to leak from appliances without performing required repairs. It is imperative that businesses using these substances manage them responsibly, so that the ozone layer will continue to protect us from harmful ultraviolet radiation," said John H. Hankinson, Jr., EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta.

"This penalty marks the largest civil fine to date under the government's program to control emissions that destroy the earth's ozone layer," said Lois Schiffer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment at the Justice Department.

Clean Air Act regulations require certain types of industrial facilities to repair leaks from appliances that exceed a 35 percent annual leak rate. Meyer's service logs revealed that Meyer's Bakery continued to add refrigerant and operate equipment without making repairs even where the leak rates were greater than 58 percent and as high as 22,531 percent. These high leak rates resulted in the release of thousands of pounds of ozone depleting substances to the atmosphere. Additionally, Meyer's Bakery did not follow up repairs with leak checks, maintain complete service records or develop a retrofit or replacement plan for these leaky systems. In comparison, an average home's air conditioning system holds 7 to 8 pounds of refrigerant. A car's system holds about 2 pounds.

Meyer's Bakery is a large commercial bakery that produces bread, muffins and other bakery goods for distribution throughout the United States and Canada. The violations occurred at Meyer's facilities in: Hope, Arkansas; Arizona City, Arizona.; Orlando, Florida.; Wichita, Kansas.; and Cleburne, Texas.

The stratospheric ozone layer protects the earth from ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. According to a national and international consensus, refrigerants like CFCs and hydrochlorofluorocarbons must be restricted because of the risk of depletion of the ozone layer. When depletion of the ozone occurs, the potential for UV-B radiation exposure increases, resulting in potential health and environmental harm including increased incidence of skin cancers and cataracts, suppression of the immune system, and damage to plants including crops and aquatic organisms.

Persons interested in obtaining additional information about CFCs or would like to report suspected violations are encouraged to call EPA's toll free hotline at 1-800-296-1996 or visit EPA's web sites at www.epa.gov/ozone and http://www.epa.gov/r02earth/epd/ques_ans/cfcfaq.htm.