Today, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Derichebourg Recycling USA Inc. (Derichebourg) of Houston to resolve Clean Air Act violations at 10 scrap metal recycling facilities in Texas and Oklahoma.
The federal complaint filed simultaneously with the consent decree alleges that Derichebourg failed to recover refrigerant from appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners before disposal or verify with the supplier that the refrigerant had been properly recovered prior to delivery. Under the settlement, Derichebourg will prevent the release of ozone-depleting refrigerants and non-exempt substitutes from refrigerant-containing items during their processing and disposal processes. Derichebourg will also pay a civil penalty of $442,500.
“To continue protecting stratospheric ozone, we need companies like Derichebourg to comply with the Clean Air Act when recycling appliances and motor vehicles containing harmful refrigerants,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Refrigerants that are not captured properly can be damaging to the earth’s ozone layer and are known to increase greenhouse gases which leads to climate change,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement is a win for the communities surrounding Derichebourg’s facilities, and the environment.”
The settlement also requires Derichebourg to implement a Refrigerant Recovery Management Program at its 10 U.S. facilities; provide notice to its suppliers that all refrigerants, if not being recovered by Derichebourg, must be recovered properly from appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners; reject any appliance or vehicle where there is evidence of unlawful refrigerant venting; and provide an educational handout to its customers on compliant handling of refrigerant-containing items. Derichebourg must also complete an environmental mitigation project that involves ensuring the destruction of all R-12 refrigerant that Derichebourg collects at its ten facilities for the duration of the consent decree. R-12 is one of the most destructive ozone depleting substances and has a global warming potential greater than 10,000 times the power of carbon dioxide.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.