Refrigerant Release Violations Lead to $195,000 Fine

June 17, 2024
Refrigerant Release Violations Lead to $195,000 Fine
The EPA recently announced a settlement with Andersen’s Sales and Salvage, Inc., in Greeley, Colorado, resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act associated with releases of refrigerants. The consent agreement and final order requires the company to pay a $195,000 penalty for these violations.
Andersen’s Sales and Salvage failed to verify the proper recovery of all refrigerants from the appliances accepted at its scrapyard. Releases of these refrigerant compounds deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, and also contribute to global warming and climate change. As part of this settlement, the company is required to comply with an administrative compliance order that includes implementation of a refrigerant management plan, among other measures.
The facility is located in an area with environmental justice concerns. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Learn more about environmental justice. 
Contractor Cited for 32 Deadly Fall Hazard Violations in a 4-Month Span
A Long Branch, New Jersey, construction contractor with a history of ignoring federal fall safety standards has again been found exposing employees to potentially deadly fall hazards in eight work site inspections from November 2023 to March 2024.
OSHA opened the eight inspections of Road Contractor Corp. in Evesham, Freehold, Manalapan, Marlton, Mullica Hill and Rumson as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Falls. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 395 fatal workplace falls, the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
"Since July 2023, we have found in 24 inspections that Road Contractor Corp. exposed its employees routinely to dangerous falls and other safety hazards common in residential construction," said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. "OSHA will use its legal authority to hold accountable employers like Road Contractor Corp. that callously disregard the safety of their employees and potentially jeopardize their lives."
In the eight inspections, OSHA investigators identified 32 safety violations with $819,417 in proposed penalties. In each, the agency found the company failed to provide workers with required fall safety protection. In addition, investigators cited the company for the following:
  • Allowing employees to use portable ladders unsafely
  • Exposing employees to silica hazards and failing to train workers to recognize them
  • Allowing the operation of machines without required guards
  • Failing to have hazardous communication or written exposure control programs
  • Not providing employees with eye and face protection
EPA Releases Information that States Can Use to Protect Local Fish from Toxic Tire Chemicals
The EPA published water quality screening values under the Clean Water Act related to short-term concentrations of 6PPD and 6PPD-quinone (6PPD-q). These chemicals have been found in freshwater ecosystems and linked to runoff from automotive tire dust and debris. Once in freshwater, these chemicals are known toxins that can quickly cause fish-kill events. The EPA’s non-regulatory and non-binding screening values provide information that Tribes, states, and local governments can use to monitor their waterways and help protect aquatic life from these harmful pollutants.
“Achieving clean water that protects aquatic life and supports commercial, recreational, and cultural fishing practices takes partnership at all levels of government,” said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “6PPD and 6PPD-q can be lethal to fish, so it’s important we know where it’s polluting waterways. The EPA’s screening values provide important information that our partners can use to protect fish populations—especially coho salmon on the Pacific coast. Solutions like stormwater treatment and green infrastructure are effective at reducing concentrations of these chemicals in freshwater ecosystems.”
This is the latest in a series of EPA actions to better understand and reduce freshwater aquatic life exposure to these harmful chemicals. In November 2023, the agency committed to consider establishing regulations prohibiting the manufacturing, processing, use and distribution of 6PPD in tires and also announced its intent to publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The EPA also announced plans to finalize a rule to require manufacturers (including importers) of 6PPD to report lists and copies of unpublished health and safety studies to the agency. In January 2024, the EPA announced the publication of a draft testing method to help Tribes, states, and key stakeholders determine where and when 6PPD-q is present in local stormwater and surface waters. In March 2024, the agency announced investments in the state of Washington to help treat and control stormwater runoff that can contain 6PPD and 6PPD-q.
The EPA’s screening values are based on the latest scientific knowledge about the short-term toxicity of 6PPD and 6PPD-q to freshwater aquatic life. Based on current science, the agency believes that concentrations of 6PPD and 6PPD-q at or below these screening values are likely to protect freshwater aquatic life. The EPA’s recommended screening values are not regulations and they do not impose any legally binding requirements.
WaterSense Labeled Products Helped Americans Save Over a Trillion Gallons of Water in 2023
The EPA’s WaterSense program has made it easy for consumers and businesses to save trillions of gallons of water. In 2023, alone WaterSense labeled products helped save 1.2 trillion gallons of water. Since the conception of the WaterSense label, EPA has helped save nearly 8.7 trillion gallons of water, which is the amount of water that is used by all U.S. households in a year.
“By reducing the energy associated with delivering, heating, and treating that water, EPA’s WaterSense program has also reduced a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions,” said EPA Director of the Office of Wastewater Management Dr. Andrew Sawyers. “We’re proud to have helped American businesses and homes save over a trillion gallons of water in 2023 alone.”
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping you save water. WaterSense seeks to protect the future of the nation’s water supply by offering Americans a simple guide to use less water with water-efficient products, homes, and services. WaterSense labeled products are independently certified to use 20% less water and perform as well or better than standard models. The program was launched in 2006, and there are more than 45,900 labeled toilets, faucets, faucet accessories, showerheads, irrigation controllers, and spray sprinkler bodies; and more than 10,000 WaterSense labeled homes.
More than 2,200 utilities, communities, manufacturers, home builders, retailers, and other organizations have partnered with WaterSense to create and promote toilets, faucets, showerheads, spray sprinkler bodies, irrigation controllers, and homes that are independently certified to use less water while maintaining performance. With an easy-to-spot label, WaterSense makes it easy to save not just water but also energy and money on utility bills.
Since 2006, WaterSense labeled products have helped save 997 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in the United States—enough energy to supply a year’s worth of power to more than 92 million homes—and eliminated more than 379 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing more than 90 million cars from the roads for a year. Using WaterSense labeled products has also saved consumers $207 billion in water and energy bills over the past 17 years.
EPA Requires Safety Improvements at Chlorine Gas Facility
The EPA announced a compliance agreement with the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) to resolve claims of Clean Air Act violations at its bulk chlorine storage site in Saipan. Under this agreement, within one year the CUC must meet requirements including updating the facility’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) and addressing all areas of concern identified through prior EPA inspections.
“The CUC needs improvements in its plan for managing potential chemical accidents, to both prevent dangerous chlorine releases and – should an accident happen – be in a position to effectively respond,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Today’s action will safeguard public health, protecting nearby residents and businesses against potential releases of a very dangerous chemical.”
The storage site was constructed in 2018 in response to a 2009 Stipulated Order to ensure the CUC’s wastewater and drinking water systems were compliant with the Clean Water Act. The facility stores over 2,500 pounds of chlorine gas in 150-lb. metal cylinders that are used for water treatment. Facilities that store 2,500 pounds or more of chlorine must comply with Risk Management Program requirements.
EPA conducted two inspections, one in 2021 and one in 2023, that identified several areas of concern. These included, but were not limited to, failure to:
  • Register the new storage site’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) with EPA and update the plan once the facility was operational.
  • Maintain the storage site adequately, to include ensuring effective cooling so that the chlorine was stored correctly and putting into place sealed doors to secure chlorine during an accidental release.
  • Train personnel on proper use of the chlorine emergency kits and coordinate emergency response with local responders to help minimize releases if they do occur.
  • Calibrate and fix chlorine sensors.
  • Test effectiveness of the scrubber media used to filter chlorine during an accidental release.
Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires development and implementation of RMPs to address risks from accidental releases of regulated toxic substances, including chlorine. Chlorine is a gas with a very irritating odor used in the production of thousands of products and for water disinfection. Exposure to low levels of chlorine can result in nose, throat, and eye irritation. At higher levels, breathing chlorine gas may result in changes in breathing rate and coughing, lung damage and potentially even death.
Legally mandated RMPs must identify the potential effects of a chemical accident, steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident, and emergency response procedures should an accident occur. These plans also provide valuable information to local emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.
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