USEPA Refrigerant Management Update: New Requirements for Ozone-Depleting Substances

January 23, 2020

Over the past three years, USEPA has issued a series of revisions to the regulatory program that addresses ozone-depleting substances (ODS), Protection of Stratospheric Ozone (40 CFR 82). One of the key changes requires an annual report to USEPA for “Chronically Leaking Equipment”, the first of which is due March 1, 2020. Additionally, the most recent revision became effective January 1, 2020 and sets a schedule for a complete phaseout of certain HCFC compounds by 2030. Earlier revisions expand the universe of facilities and equipment covered by this program, and increase the complexity of prior inspection, testing, and reporting requirements.

Some of the more significant requirements implemented over the last three years include:

  • Expanded coverage of non-ODS refrigerants
    • All CFC and HCFC compounds are now regulated (with extremely limited exceptions)
  • More conservative leak rate limits
  • Formal assessment of “Chronically Leaking Equipment”
  • Proactive inspections for equipment exceeding leak rate limits
    • Automatic leak detection systems are now allowed to meet this requirement
  • Expanded Initial and Follow-Up Verification Testing
  • Elimination of the de minimis equipment disposal exemption
  • Greatly expanded reporting and recordkeeping obligations
  • Less flexible equipment retrofit / retirement options

Over the past several years, USEPA has pursued many enforcement actions in this area, with fines, penalties, and Supplemental Environmental Project settlements running six and seven figures. Rick Pooler recently joined Bond and has experience in refining existing programs, developing new programs, and creatively responding to difficult compliance situations under 40 CFR 82 at complex commercial / industrial facilities. In addition, he has negotiated settlement agreements with USEPA Headquarters, multiple USEPA Regional Offices, and the Department of Justice. 

If you have compliance risk concerns, many strategies are available to address such risks in a proactive manner.