Friday, June 22, 2012

US seafood company to pay $700,000 for R22 violations

USA: One of the USA's largest seafood companies has agreed to pay a $700,000 fine for illegally importing R22 and committing other clean air violations.

The settlement, outlined in a consent decree lodged by the US Department of Justice on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency, concerns the improper release and illegal import of ozone depleting refrigerants.

American Seafoods Co and Pacific Longline Co, both subsidiaries of the American Seafoods Group have agreed to phase out the use of ozone depleting refrigerants, implement a comprehensive leak detection and repair programme aboard a number of their vessels and pay a $700,000 penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations.

Between 2006 and 2009, American Seafoods Company and Pacific Longline Company used R22 as a refrigerant in industrial refrigeration units aboard its fishing vessels. American Seafoods illegally imported 70,000 kg of R22 refrigerant to the United States without holding valid allowances. 

The companies were also said to have failed to repair refrigerant leaks in a timely manner; failed to verify adequacy of repairs to its refrigeration systems; having inadequate records of repair service on refrigerant system and using uncertified employees to perform refrigerant-related work.

In addition to the penalty, the companies will spend an estimated $9m to $15m to convert refrigeration systems on several vessels to operate using non-ozone depleting refrigerants. The companies have also purchased and retired R22 allowances to offset the harm caused by their illegal importation.

American Seafoods Company is one of the country's largest seafood harvesters and at-sea processors of pollock, hake, cod, scallops and yellowfin sole. The company sells its products in the United States, Asia and Europe. American Seafoods Company and Pacific Longline Company are based in Seattle.

The cost of keeping your home cool is rising

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With the heat we're feeling, many homeowners are discovering that it's gotten a lot more expensive to keep their homes cool.
The cost of cooling homes is rising because the cost of the Freon gas used in most air conditioners is skyrocketing. The reason -- new EPA regulations.
The next time you call someone like Danny Crimmens to come fix your air conditioner, be prepared for sticker shock when you get the bill.

Repairing leaky air conditioners has never been as expensive as it is right now.

The problem is the rising cost of R-22 Freon gas, the most common coolant used in both home and business air conditioners for some 40 years. In 2010, the EPA began phasing out R-22 because of concerns that it damaged the ozone layer.

"So what everybody did is agreed that beginning in 2010, they would start phasing out R-22, and phase it out over a 10-year period through 2010-2020," said Richard Ciresi, president of AireServ Heating and Cooling.

But then, last year, the EPA changed the rules. Instead of phasing out R-22 at a rate of 10 percent per year, the EPA proposed an immediate 35 percent reduction.

"Well, the moment that proposal hit the street, the price of the refrigerant R-22 tripled literally overnight," said Ciresi.

Tripled from about eight-dollars a pound to 25-dollars a pound. And much of that cost is being passed on to consumers.

"Our price just escalated wildly, some of which we tried to absorb to help our customers."
And it's going to get worse before it gets better. The closer we get to 2020, the more scarce and more expensive R-22 gas will become.

So, many homeowners will face a dilemma -- whether to pay the skyrocketing cost of repairing an older air conditioner, or buying a newer model that does not use R-22 gas.

"If someone has an old R-22 unit and maybe it needs a $500-600 repair, it's probably time to start looking at going ahead and replacing it because the next repair may be $1000 or $1200. We don't know what that number is going to be," said Ciresi.

If your air conditioner was installed before around 1997, it's more likely that it uses R-22 gas. The good news is that modern units are more efficient, and you'll save on your energy bill.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

Dangerous counterfeit R-134a

By Elvis L. Hoffpauir, President and COO MACS Worldwide

Last December, MACS circulated a press release from member company Neutronics Inc’s. Refrigerant Analysis Division, warning about counterfeit R-134a refrigerant contaminated with significant quantities of R-40 (aka methyl chloride or chloromethane). R-40 is extremely toxic, flammable and highly reactive when exposed to aluminum. In some cases R-40 may react with aluminum to form a third, highly unstable compound (trimethylaluminum or TMA) that ignites in contact with air.

This counterfeit R-134a mixed with R-40 and other refrigerants has apparently been purposely designed to mimic pure R-134a at a substantially reduced cost, the likely motivation of the counterfeiters. Current refrigerant identifiers, certified to SAE J1771, are not designed to directly identify R-40.

Prior to issuing the warning, Neutronics had been engaged by the oceangoing shipping industry to assist with an R-134a refrigerant contamination problem involving R-40 that resulted in three deaths in three separate incidents. Since that time Neutronics has been working with the Army, which positively identified R-134a contaminated with R-40 in Army depot supplies. Ground combat and tactical vehicles serviced in Afghanistan and Iraq have been affected, and while the Army does not currently know the depth of contamination, it suspects that vehicles and reclaimed supplies may be contaminated.

At an April 25 meeting of Society of Engineers Interior Climate Control Standards Committee, Peter Coll, MACS director and vice president of Neutronics Refrigerant Analysis, provided field test data from 30 samples of recovered refrigerant from both vehicle and commercial applications. R-40 contamination levels of the samples ranged from less than one percent to 10.1 percent. All of the samples tested also contained other refrigerants including hydrocarbons, R-22 and R-12.

Army representatives asked that the SAE Committee form a working group to develop procedures to identify and isolate contaminated vehicles and equipment, as well as ways to safely service vehicles to return them to mission-ready status.

It should be noted that these contaminated refrigerant systems can pose a major safety issue to those working on them. Currently the industry is working on, but has not determined, the best service procedures to be used. Contaminated systems can damage recovery and recycling equipment, and can result in the requirement to replace all vehicle refrigerant circuit components.

At an April 24 meeting on R-40 in Australia organized by Michael Bennett, general manager of Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, industry representatives discussed the discovery of the counterfeit refrigerant in newly manufactured equipment imported from China. Very high levels of corrosion were said to be present in these systems, and it is thought that rapid corrosion takes place once a contaminated system is installed and operated. Like the SAE and others, this group is working to gain a better understanding of the potential extent of the contamination in order to develop an appropriate plan to manage the threat.

Ron Henselmans, vice chairman of Mobile A/C Partners Europe and editor-in-chief at “Automotive A/C Reporter,” first reported R-40 contamination found in Europe in his March, 2011 issue.
In December, 2011 R-40 contamination had not yet been discovered in North America, but in April 2012 lab tests confirmed the presence of R-40 in a number of containers of recovered refrigerant in the U.S. With the confirmation from the military that infected vehicles have invaded our shores, containment actions are of paramount importance. This problem has been seen in many parts of the world having much smaller mobile A/C fleets, so there is the potential for the same problem in the North American market.

While there is no reason to believe that this contamination is currently widespread in this market, its existence serves as one more reason service shops should remain vigilant and purchase their refrigerant from authorized distributors of their chosen refrigerant manufacturer.

The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!

When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.

You can E-mail us at or visit to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.
The 33rd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Be the Best of the Best will take place February 7-9, 2013 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Miami Executive Busted with Smuggled R-22

MIAMI — Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Maureen O’Mara, special agent in charge, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Criminal Investigation Division, Atlanta Area Office; and Alysa D. Erichs, special agent in charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), recently announced that defendant Carlos A. Garcia pleaded guilty in connection with the illegal receipt, purchase, and sale of HCFC-22 that had been smuggled into the United States.
Sentencing has been scheduled before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga for June 26, 2012. Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Garcia pled guilty to Count 4 of the indictment, which charged him with knowingly receiving, buying, selling, and facilitating the transportation, concealment, and sale of approximately 13,600 kilograms of HCFC-22. Garcia’s employer, Mar-Cone Appliance Parts Co., was previously convicted and sentenced for related conduct and ordered to pay a $500,000 criminal fine, a $400,000 community service payment, and was ordered to forfeit to the United States $190,534.70 in illegal proceeds.

The Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations established a schedule to phase out the production and importation of ozone-depleting substances, including R-22, beginning in 2002, with a complete ban starting in 2030. As part of these regulations, the federal government issued baseline allowances for the production and importation of HCFC-22 to individuals and companies. In order to legally import HCFC-22, one must hold an unexpended consumption allowance.

According to court records and proceedings, Garcia was the senior vice president of Marcone’s Heating and Cooling division responsible for executing legal purchases and sales of refrigerant gas. Instead Garcia engaged in a pattern of conduct to purchase and sell black market HCFC-22. The investigation revealed that he would routinely seek out and arrange the purchase of HCFC-22 from various importers who did not hold the required unexpended consumption allowances, totaling approximately 55,488 kilograms of restricted HCFC-22, with a fair market value of approximately $639,458. The refrigerant gas was distributed by Marcone throughout the United States.

Officials said this matter and others involving the smuggling and distribution of ozone-depleting substances are being investigated through a multi-agency initiative known as Operation Catch-22. Operation Catch-22 has, to date, included the successful conviction of nearly a dozen individuals and corporations.

Publication date: 6/18/2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Action Line: Subbing for R-22 refrigerant may be risky

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

 Dear Action Line: With the Freon shortage, is it advisable to use the cheaper blends of recycled refrigerants that some AC contractors are pushing these days?  -  B.R., Tulsa.

Weather scientists say this summer is likely to be one of the hottest on record, meaning most of us will have no options but to use air conditioning to survive. Recent reports of R-22 shortages, and the resulting price spike, will drive service companies and consumers to the cheaper refrigerants available. But in some cases, they can actually damage air conditioners and void their warranties, said Bill Cunningham, senior product manager at Service Experts, the nation's largest heating and air conditioning service company.

"Before deciding on which refrigerant to use to recharge a home's system this year, it is  worthwhile to call your system's manufacturer to check the options. Consumers face an alphabet soup of alternative refrigerants: R407c, R422 and R438A (aka ISCEON M099). This will be confusing to homeowners and costly when they don't know their ABCs.

"Some air conditioners installed prior to 2010 are likely based on R-22 refrigerant (Freon brand). When new refrigerant is needed during repairs, there is only one real solution  -  R-22 must be replaced with R-22, otherwise you run the risk of voiding the manufacturer warranty and possibly damaging the entire system.

"With the price of R-22 dramatically increasing due to a planned Environmental Protection Agency phase-out, some refrigerant manufacturers have begun selling cheaper alternatives," he said. "EPA regulations, mandated by the federal Clean Air Act following congressional ratification of the Montreal Protocol, greatly limit production of AC units using R-22 in 2010. The regulations call for phase out of R-22 by 2020, putting upward pressure on the price of the refrigerant," Cunningham said.

That makes the alternatives cheaper but only in the short run. If you let your service technician recharge your R-22 system with one of the alternatives, you could void your AC warranty and even damage your system.

Cunningham noted that Lennox, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, did research showing these cheaper alternatives are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R-22 units. Recharging older AC with alternative refrigerants may actually degrade their performance and void any remaining warranty.

"We've instructed our 2,500 technicians servicing and repairing older AC systems this spring in our Precision Tune-Up program to follow the manufacturer's recommendations and use only R-22 when recharging R-22 systems," said Cunningham.

Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, Dallas, is North America's largest heating and AC brand, with over 108 locations (including Tulsa) serving 2,100 homes and businesses per day.

Service Experts branches provide heating repair, AC repair, indoor air quality sales, HVAC system sales and installation, HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair service for both residential and commercial HVAC markets.
Original Print Headline: Subbing for R-22 refrigerant may be risky
Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Cost of Popular Home Air Conditioning Refrigerant Up 300 Percent in 2012

Federal EPA regulations limiting the production of R-22 refrigerant are increasing air conditioning repair and maintenance costs for home and business owners across the U.S. at a staggering rate.

June 12, 2012 (FPRC) -- Prices have begun to steadily rise for a common refrigerant used in many air conditioning systems due to federal regulations designed to encourage the use of a newer, greener alternative.

For the past forty years, R-22 has been the aerosol propellant of choice in residential air and heating systems. According to a recent report, however, its use in home systems is expected to rapidly fall over the next few years, bottoming out around ten percent of its historic use nationwide. As production and consumption costs for Freon increase, ac repair and maintenance costs for older residential systems that were designed to specifically use R-22 have increased more than 300 percent in 2012, alone.

In an effort to meet federal goals on overall carbon emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency tracks the allowable allocations of R-22 usage, and publishes the allocations of R-22 use on a yearly basis. This past January, however, the EPA did not release their allocations for allowable R-22 usage, making the manufacture or importation of additional R-22 illegal.

The complete in production has resulted in a spike in the price of R-22, causing homeowners to recoil in horror when their ac systems spring a leak or require recharging of the traditional propellant.

When breached for comment, Barry Andrews, president of Air National of Houston, LLC stated, "As a home air conditioning repair and service provider, I feel it is my responsibility to influence owners of older, leaking systems to consider replacing their units with newer units."

"Considering the rapid spike in prices, there's no way of predicting what prices are going to be down the road", Andrews added.

The rush to new installations isn't heralded by all, however, and some industry leaders are adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards the situation.

"We still don't know for sure what the EPA is planning", stated John Erwin, president of The National HVAC Convention. "There's every possibility that new allocations will be published and production will resume. We just don't know."

Limitations on R-22 production began as a result of The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1987 that established requirements to encourage the worldwide phase-out of ozone depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). One of the provisions of the treaty require that nations enact regulations that would ultimately eliminate the use of R-22 by January 1, 2020.

Manufacturers of R-22 began halting production in 2010, so as to be in compliance with the U.S. EPAs Clean Air Act, which intends to limit the production of pollutants that emit greenhouse gasses as a byproduct. R-22 is one step more serious than that; it is itself classified as a greenhouse gas.

As an alternative, new systems are being designed to run on a more environmentally friendly propellant, R-410A. The newer refrigerant will not work in older systems, and requires a higher system pressure to produce effective propellant effects. In addition to being more eco-friendly, the newer refrigerant also promotes a financial incentive for homeowners because it is deemed more efficient than its obsolete counterpart, with some reports indicating an average of 40% reduction in home energy costs.

Critics of the phase-out plan argue that although R-410A does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, the propellant is still a "blend" of CFCs, and as such, contributes to global warming just like it's older predecessor, R-22.

Another refrigerant on the list of acceptable propellants is R-407C, which at this time is only available to households outside of the U.S., and are commonly found in Europe.

The EPA has stated that it will continue to review newer, non-ozone-depleting air conditioning refrigerants as they are developed.