According to nola.com, the website of The Times-Picayune, Michael Wagner of Metairie is accused of selling tens of thousands of dollars worth of a substitute air conditioning refrigerant containing propane to unwitting air conditioning repair companies, professionals and DIYers.
The refrigerant, sold as Super-Freeze 22A, was advertised as a substitute for R22 between 2012 and 2016.
Most of the customers who bought the refrigerant, sold as Super-Freeze 22A, did not know it was potentially flammable and dangerous, Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, told nola.
Wagner was charged with theft valued at over $25,000 by fraudulent means and systemic practices, reckless handling of hazardous materials, obstruction of justice, wilful or knowing violation of rules and regulations of the Louisiana Petroleum Gas Commission and failure to properly odourise gas or to verify the presence of an odourant, arrest records said.
Wagner was arrested following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, the FBI and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
In July 2013 the US EPA warned of potential safety hazards related to the use of propane or other unapproved refrigerants in home air conditioning systems. In 2014, the FBI led an investigation into the sale of Super-Freeze 22a, Super-Freeze 12a, Super-Freeze 134a and Enviro-Safe 22a as they had not been submitted to the EPA for review as alternative and accepted refrigerants.
A number of specific hydrocarbon refrigerants have since been approved by the EPA as acceptable under the USA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Programme for use in specific new refrigeration and air conditioning end-uses. These include ethane (R170), isobutane (R600a), propane (R290) and the hydrocarbon blend R441A. Their use as a retrofit in existing equipment is prohibited.