By Jeryl L. Olson

Following pressure from Environmental Groups and Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced two rule changes affecting users of refrigerants containing ozone depleting substances (ODS) (chlorofluorocarbons or “CFCs” and hydrochlorofluoro-carbons or “HCFCs”). 

On October 20, 2014, EPA announced the phase out of the production, import, and export of certain HCFCs between 2015 and 2019, and to phase out the use of the most common HCFCs (HCFC 22, HCFC 142b, and HCFC-225ca/cb) by 2020.  This final rule is effective January 2015.  As in previous rulemakings phasing out the production of, and eventually banning the use of ODS associated with refrigerants, these changes will have a significant impact on industries with high use of refrigerants, including retail grocers. 

While many grocery chains have moved away from HCFCs in order to avoid the recordkeeping and reporting associated with leak detection and repair rules, others have continued to commonly use HCFC 22, and other users of  HCFC 142b and HCFC-225ca/cb will likewise be affected. 

In a separate rulemaking, on October 21, 2014, EPA suggested several alternatives to the ODS scheduled on October 20, 2014 for a phase out and ban.  79 Fed. Reg. 62863.  Approved alternative substances include trans-1-chroyl-3,3,3,-trifluoroprop-1-ene (Solstis 1233zd(E), and Solstis N12 Refrigerant).  Carbon dioxide (R-744), is identified as an alternative for use in a refrigerated transport, and R450A as a substitute in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.  For foam blowing, EPA has suggested methylal and hydrofluoroolefin (HFO), as alternatives to the soon-to-be HCFC ODS. 

The full list of acceptable substitutes for ozone depleting substances in all industrial sectors are available on the Agency’s Ozone Layer Protection Web site.

Feel free to reach out to the author, one of Seyfarth Shaw’s Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting team members, or your Seyfarth attorney with any questions on this important topic.