Costco faced with fine after Clean Air Act Violations


Costco have been hit with a $335,000 fine and they will need to pay $2 million in remedial measures because they have not recorded R22 leaks over the last 3 years.

Costco are the second largest retailer in the US and they had previously promised to cut their emissions from refrigeration and they were planning on doing so by improving their units in more than half of their stores across the country.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice have said that Costco will have to pay a penalty fine of $335,000 as a result of Clean Air Act violations and they will need to improve their refrigeration management in 274 of their shops. The cost of this is $2 million on top of their fine and they will have to have completed this work by 2017. The violations included not repairing leaks of the R22 refrigerant between the years 2004 and 2007. They also did not have proper records to prove the servicing of the refrigeration units which is a necessity set out by the Clean Air Act to ensure safety.

The assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Cynthia Giles has said, “Cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions is a national priority for EPA, and this settlement will lead to significant reductions of an ozone-depleting gas that is 1,700 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Fixing leaks of refrigerants, improving compliance and reducing emissions will make a real difference in protecting us from the dangers of ozone depletion, while reducing the impact on climate change.”

The acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, San Hirsch has said “Compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act is key to protecting all Americans from air pollution that damages our atmosphere and changes our climate. Industry needs to lead the way in abandoning harmful chemicals in favour of using and developing greener, environmentally friendly alternatives to protect our health and climate.”

Costco will now have to invest and implement in a refrigerant management system that will enable them to not only repair but also prevent leaks. This is because they need to reduce their leak rate by 20%. The EPA have said that once all the changes have been implemented that there will be 105,000 pounds of future releases prevented. This is a huge amount because the refrigerant R22 has 1,700 times more GWP than carbon dioxide. The settlement that has been agreed on means that in terms of carbon dioxide, Costco will reduce their emissions by 30,000 metric tons every year.

Photo by Stu Pendousmat/ CC BY-SA 3.0