Meyer''s Bakery, in Little Rock, Ark., has agreed to pay $3.5 million in penalties to settle outstanding claims for violations of the Clean Air Act.
This settlement is the largest settlement in the history of the EPA''s stratospheric ozone protection program.
The stratospheric ozone layer protects the earth from ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation.
This agreement sets a new precedent for EPA enforcement of leak repair regulations at industrial facilities.
"Essentially, Meyer''s Bakery allowed thousands of pounds of refrigerant to leak from appliances without performing required repairs," said John Hankinson Jr., EPA regional administrator in Atlanta. "It is imperative that businesses using these substances manage them responsibly, so that the ozone layer will continue to protect us from harmful ultraviolet radiation."
Clean Air Act regulations require certain types of industrial facilities to repair leaks from appliances that exceed a 35 percent annual leak rate.
Meyer''s service logs revealed that Meyer''s Bakery continued to add refrigerant and operate equipment without making repairs even where the leak rates were greater than 58 percent and as high as 22,531 percent.
These high leak rates resulted in the release of thousands of pounds of ozone depleting substances to the atmosphere.
Additionally, Meyer''s did not follow up repairs with leak checks, maintain complete service records or develop a retrofit or replacement plan for these leaky systems.
In comparison, an average home''s air conditioning system holds 7 to 8 pounds of refrigerant. A car''s system holds about 2 pounds.
Meyer''s Bakery is a commercial bakery that produces bread, muffins and other bakery goods for distribution throughout the United States and Canada.
The violations occurred at Meyer''s facilities in: Hope, Ark.; Arizona City, Ariz.; Orlando, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; and Cleburne, Texas.
by Virginia Sutcliffe