The corporate parent of a chain of grocery stores in Bakersfield and California has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil settlement and implement a $4.1 million emissions reduction plan to settle violations of the Clean Air Act. The agreement was revealed in a joint announcement today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Safeway, the nation's second largest grocery store chain which owns several Von's grocery stores in Bakersfield, had been accused of failing to promptly repair leaks of HCFC-22 in its refrigeration equipment as well as failing to maintain adequate records of maintenance on that equipment.
HCFC-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon commonly used in refrigeration systems. Such compounds are associated with the formation of the ozone hole in the upper atmosphere. Additionally, they are powerful greenhouse gases, with HCFC-22 being 1,800 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Safeway's emission reduction plan is expected to prevent over 100,000 pounds of future releases of HCFCs.
The civil penalty and the emissions reduction plan, which affects 659 of its stores nationwide, covers the largest number of facilities ever under the Clean Air Act's ozone protection requirements.
“Safeway’s new corporate commitment to reduce air pollution and help protect the ozone layer is vital and significant,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Fixing leaks, 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.”
“This first-of-its-kind settlement will benefit all Americans by cutting emissions of ozone-depleting substances across Safeway’s national supermarket chain,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It can serve as a model for comprehensive solutions that improve industry compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act.”
Safeway operates over 1,600 stores across the US and Canada. These include 251 Safeway stores in Northern California, 279 Vons stores in Southern California and Nevada, 114 Randalls and Tom Thumb stores in Texas, as well as 35 Carrs stores in Alaska.
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