On the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new refrigerant rules that began taking effect in 2017 and 2018, things are going to be heating up even more in 2019.

In the past couple of years, the EPA adopted new rules including the targeted reclamation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 700-2016 standards for purity as well as the new requirements to document the disposal of all systems that use between 5 and 50 pounds of refrigerant. Well, that’s just the beginning.

In 2019, the bar will be raised even higher for companies when HFC systems and circuits that use 50 pounds or more of refrigerants will have to be monitored for leakage rates, and repairs will have to be performed more quickly.

Since the new refrigerant rules were adopted under the Obama administration, the Trump administration announced in August 2017 that it would propose a rule to revisit these requirements.

Even though EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018, the agency under its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will continue to pursue revisions to the rule.

“As noted in the administrator’s August 10, 2017, letter, EPA is planning to issue a proposed rule to revisit aspects of the 2016 rule’s extension of the refrigerant management regulations to substitutes,” an EPA spokeswoman told Spark in a written statement. “The draft proposed rule was received by the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review on May 4, 2018. The 2016 rule and the compliance dates currently remain in effect.”

 

Sphera’s Take

“It is evident that most organizations will need to revisit and revamp their refrigerant management initiatives to address required practices, documentation methods, electronic record-keeping and reporting. Facilities and contractors will need to communicate more quickly and with more detail to address leaking systems and appliance disposals. If your contractor isn’t a good ‘compliance partner’ with good documentation and communication, then it might be time for a change. With fines at $37,500 per day per violation and supplemental environmental projects costing millions of dollars, the risk is too great. And don’t we want to save the planet?”

 

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