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Home Depot fined $1.6m for selling R134a

USA: Home Depot, the USA’s largest home improvement retailer, has been issued with a $1.6m fine for selling R134a refrigerant. 

Washington passed laws banning the sale of R134a canisters at retail stores in July 2021. The refrigerant, which is widely used in car air conditioning systems, is not permitted for retail sale to ensure repair and maintenance of these systems happens at shops that can collect and recycle the old refrigerant.  

After Washington’s HFC regulations took effect, Washington’s Department of Ecology began notifying and educating businesses about how to comply in November 2021. 

In response, most businesses voluntarily updated their websites and sales practices. The Home Depot is said to have continued to both offer and sell R134a canisters to Washington customers on its website. 

Staff from the Department of Ecology are said to have made numerous attempts between 2021 and 2023 to help the company come into compliance. 

Home Depot assured the authorities that the identified products would not be available for purchase in Washington and that no new prohibited products would be added to the website. 

After R134a was again discovered being offered for sale on the Home Depot’s website during a routine compliance check in July 2023, the Department of Ecology requested information from the company about potential sales. The Home Depot informed Ecology that it had sold 1,058 units of the prohibited products in Washington between April 12, 2022, and September 5, 2023. 

Under Washington law, the company could have faced penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. Based on the company’s prompt disclosure of units sold, the amount was reduced to $1,500 per violation, or $1.6m in total.

Home Depot has 30 days to appeal the penalty to Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board. 

Related stories:

Call for ban on refrigerant recharge cans13 October 2021
USA: The US Environmental Protection Agency is being petitioned to ban sales of “consumer recharge cans” of refrigerant as part of its rule making to restrict the use of HFCs. Read more…

US HFC plans spring DIY leak7 December 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…

Uncertified persons can buy F-gas – October 18, 2015
UK: The UK government has confirmed that F-gas refrigerants can be sold to unqualified persons servicing mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. Read more…

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