Scrap Metal Facility Agrees to Remove Refrigerants before Crushing, Recycling

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 in Chicago has issued an administrative consent order to Midway Iron and Metals Inc. to comply with EPA regulations designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. The order covers the company's scrap metal recycling facility in St. Cloud, Minn., where EPA alleges the company accepted small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning units and crushed them without properly verifying that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants were removed before they were sent for recycling.

Midway agreed to, among other things, begin recovering within 30 days from receipt of the order any remaining refrigerant from each appliance and motor vehicle air conditioning unit or to verify that the refrigerant has been previously removed from the appliances, EPA said. The agency learned about the company's alleged failure to remove the refrigerants from the company's response to a September 2008 EPA information request.

EPA notes that chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants deplete the stratospheric, or "good" ozone layer, allowing dangerous amounts of cancer-causing ultraviolet rays from the sun to strike the earth. Some chlorofluorocarbons are also potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Production of some of these chemicals was stopped in 1995, and federal law strictly controls their use and handling.

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