Kansas-based truck industry supplier Northcutt faces a $US100,000 fine and the withdrawal of its hydrocarbon refrigerant products from the United States market in a consent decree lodged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In a Finding of Violation (FoV) sent by the EPA to Northcutt in June 2014, the company was accused of selling unapproved hydrocarbon substitutes for ozone-depleting R12, R22 and R502 refrigerants, in breach of the Clean Air Act.
The FoV notes that “hydrocarbon refrigerant, in unapproved uses, as a substitute for [R12, R22 and R502] creates the potential for explosion and fires. As such, it presents a serious risk to human health and the environment.”
In addition to a $100,000 civil penalty under the consent decree, Northcutt must also stop manufacturing, marketing, advertising, selling and distributing refrigerants within the US until it has complied with all the regulations it has broken.
Northcutt must also write to all known US-based purchasers of its refrigerants with a letter prescribed by the EPA that warns them of safety concerns about and legal restrictions as to the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants.
The letter also says that “flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants should not be used in appliances not specifically designed for their use” and advises purchasers to “advise any of your customers regarding the potential risks associated with such use”.
At the time of writing, Northcutt’s HC refrigerant website was covered in warnings that the products could not be sold in the US, but the company still distributes them to Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The latest EPA fine for hydrocarbon refrigerant sellers comes just months after US company Enviro-Safe copped a $300,000 fine and had to cease the promotion and sale of hydrocarbons in the US.
SightGlass News understands the legal action has come about as the result of an FBI investigation into the illegal sale and use of hydrocarbon refrigerants following some fire and explosion incidents.