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EIA takes aim at US refrigerant leaks

23296917_sUSA: The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has called on the US EPA to lower the allowable leak rate threshold on commercial refrigeration systems to mirror those in the UK.

Writing on the group’s website, EIA Climate Policy Analyst Lowell Chandler welcomes the EPA’s proposals to extend the provisions on refrigerant management under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act to cover HFCs, but calls for tougher action over leakage rates.

The current proposals would lower the current leak rate threshold from 35% to 20% for commercial refrigeration appliances and industrial process refrigeration systems, but the EIA feels the regulations could go further for new commercial refrigeration systems.

“In new systems, it is possible to bring the allowable leak rate threshold to 10%, and EIA advocated for such in our comments to the rulemaking,” writes Lowell Chandler.

He argues that hundreds of stores in the United States already achieve this proposed leak rate, particularly those that are GreenChill Certified.

“With proper regulations it is possible for businesses to lower their leakage rates; for example, in the United Kingdom, ASDA, Walmart’s UK chain, maintains a company-wide annual leak rate of 7.1% and has an even lower leak rate in new stores at 3.6%,” he says.

Concern over small cans of R134a

In addition to leak rate thresholds, the EIA is reported to be concerned about the US EPA’s proposal to create a sales exception for small cans (2lb or less) of R134a for self-service of motor vehicle air conditioners.

Concerned that the proposal could lead to significant emissions of HFCs in a country where nearly 14 million such cans are sold each year.

If the EPA were to allow this exception, up to 18 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent could potentially be emitted each year,” writes Lowell Chandler. “The primary issue is that when individuals, rather than certified technicians, service their MVAC, the system leaks do not get repaired, resulting in a leak and recharge cycle.”

Related stories:

US HFC plans spring DIY leak – December 7, 2015
USA: President Obama’s plans to control HFCs have sprung a leak with news that the EPA is proposing to allow refrigerant sales to the general public. Read more…

EPA to strengthen HFC laws – October 20, 2015
USA: New proposals by the US EPA will see a tightening of HFC refrigerant emission, venting and sales laws. Read more…

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