Ocean Companies to Pay Penalties Due To Refrigerant Releases

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Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Cold LLC, both seafood processing and cold storage companies, have agreed to cut R-22 refrigerant releases from leaking refrigeration equipment at their facilities in Westport, Washington and compensate $495,000 in penalties for environmental violations.

This agreement has been declared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

According to Ed Kowalski, the Director for EPA’s Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement, “Because of this settlement, the Ocean Companies are expected to cut their future ozone-depleting releases and reduce their future refrigerant emissions in an amount equivalent to approximately 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year, another step in our efforts to combat climate change. Investing in better equipment and maintenance to stop wasteful refrigerant leaks is good for our environment and good for business.”

EPA said that approximately since 2007, the two Ocean Companies were not able to quickly repair refrigerant leaks and were not able to keep adequate records of the servicing of their refrigeration equipment needed to prevent leaks, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The companies were not also able to give timely release reports to EPA and emergency planners, which violates the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The agreement demands the Ocean Companies commit to a refrigerant release reduction program in order to carry out a refrigerant compliance management plan, to give periodic reports to EPA, and to train and educate employees in their refrigerant-related work requirements. The two companies also comply to use a third-party verifier to inspect all their facilities and records to monitor leak detection and recordkeeping practices, and to identify whether the companies’actions and records satisfy the management plan and the terms of the agreement. Aside from these penalties, the Ocean Companies have also agreed to fix all refrigerant leaks and carry out facility-wide enhancements that are forecasted to cost about $260,000, also as part of the agreement.

The proposed agreement is still subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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