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US: Kraft, US Surgical Caught Leaking Ozone Depleting Chemicals

Environmental News Service
February 13th, 2006

A fine of more than $100,000 may be levied against the international company Kraft Foods for Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Woburn, Massachusetts processing plant.

The complaint, issued by the New England regional office of the The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asserts that Kraft Foods Global failed to adequately repair a leak of ozone-depleting substances from an industrial process refrigeration unit and failed to conduct leak repair tests or keep required service records for repairs of some units, all in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

The Woburn complaint stemmed from an EPA inspection in October 2004 following a leak in 2003 which released 125 pounds of refrigerant.

The EPA is seeking a penalty of $112,200 for violations that include a leak of ozone depleting substances into the atmosphere.

The stratospheric ozone layer protects humans from being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Federal stratospheric ozone protection regulations were established to limit the emissions of substances that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations provide strict rules governing the service, maintenance, repair and disposal of ozone-depleting substances.

Most of these refrigerants are being phased out and replaced with safer alternatives.

“The ozone layer provides important protection to all of us from the sun’s harmful rays,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s important that companies and individuals who work with ozone-depleting substances follow appropriate steps to ensure the materials are not released into the atmosphere. This helps keep the ozone layer intact.”

Kraft, a multinational corporation, has food processing facilities located in nearly every state. In 2004, Kraft took part in an EPA initiative to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting refrigerants at nine U.S. bakeries and converted more than 60 refrigeration systems containing ozone depleting substances to operate with safer alternatives.

A fine of $165,000 may be levied under a similar EPA complaint against the US Surgical of North Haven, Connecticut. The EPA outlines violations that include leaking more than 500 pounds of ozone depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere.

US Surgical manufactures wound closure products and advanced surgical devices. The North Haven facility contains 46 industrial process refrigeration units.

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