Two seafood processing and cold storage companies have reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to cut releases of gases from leaking refrigeration equipment in their facilities in Westport, Washington.
The settlement announced on March 8 by the EPA and the Justice Department involves Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Cold LLC.
The Ocean Companies agreed to pay $495,000 in penalties for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The EPA said both companies used the refrigerant cholorodifluoromethane, or “R-22,” A powerful ozone-depleting gas. R-22 and other hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, damage the ozone layer, resulting in dangerous amounts of cancer causing ultraviolet solar radiation striking the earth, increasing skin cancers and cataracts.
Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement, said the Ocean Companies are expected to cut their future ozone-depleting releases and reduce their future refrigerant emissions in an amount equivalent to about 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
The EPA said that since at least 2007, the Ocean Companies failed to promptly repair refrigerant leaks and failed to keep adequate records of the servicing of their refrigeration equipment necessary to prevent leaks, in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The companies also failed to provide timely release reports to the EPA and emergency planners, in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the EPA said.
Among the settlement requirements re that Ocean Companies commit to a refrigerant release reduction program, implement a refrigerant compliance management plan, train employees in their refrigerant-related work requirements, and provide periodic reports to the EPA.