The US filed a lawsuit against Derichebourg Recycling USA for breaching the Clean Air Act in the Southern District of Texas on Friday, January 7th.
Derichebourg Recycling USA, according to the lawsuit, is a Texas firm that owns and runs recycling facilities in Houston, Texas and Oklahoma. The corporation is a “final processor” of small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners in the scrap metal recycling process, as defined under the Clean Air Act.
Derichebourg allegedly failed to recover refrigerant from appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners before disposal or to check with the supplier that the refrigerant had been properly recovered prior to distribution, according to a federal complaint filed concurrently with the consent decree. Derichebourg will comply with the agreement by preventing the discharge of ozone-depleting refrigerants and non-exempt replacements from refrigerant-containing commodities during their processing and disposal. Derichebourg will also have to pay a $442,500 civil penalty.
At the time, Assistant Attorney General, Todd Kim, of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said:
“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.”
Acting Assistant Administrator, Larry Starfield, for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance added:
“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.” Starfield continued: “Today’s settlement is a win for the communities surrounding Derichebourg’s facilities, and the environment.”
Derichebourg must also implement a Refrigerant Recovery Management Program at its ten U.S. facilities, notify its suppliers that all refrigerants must be recovered properly from appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners if they are not being recovered by Derichebourg, reject any appliance or vehicle with evidence of unlawful refrigerant venting, and provide an educational handout to its customers on compliant handling of refrigerant. For the length of the consent order, Derichebourg must also perform an environmental remediation project that includes the destruction of all R-12 refrigerant collected at its 10 locations. R-12 is one of the most ozone-depleting chemicals, with a global warming potential 10,000 times larger than 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 ‘U.S. v. Derichebourg Recycling, USA, Inc.’ will be available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.