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Environmental Enforcement Round Up: Preferred Freezer, Permanent Siding, Mojave Pyrotechnics

Here’s a roundup of the latest environmental enforcement stories.

Preferred Freezer Services, a refrigerated warehouse company, has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a case brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for alleged Clean Air Act violations at three cold-storage facilities in Massachusetts.

According to a recent settlement, Preferred Freezer, which provides refrigerated warehouse space for frozen food producers and suppliers, allegedly violated federal regulations designed to prevent chlorofluorocarbons from leaking from industrial refrigeration equipment and damaging the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer.

The violations occurred at the company’s facilities in Raynham, Sharon and Westfield, Mass. Preferred Freezer owns and operates 25 refrigerated warehouse facilities nationwide.

The EPA’s New England office alleged that all three facilities failed to certify to the agency that they had appropriate CFC recovery or recycling equipment. At the Raynham and Sharon facilities, a company technician serviced appliances containing CFCs on various occasions without being certified by an approved certification program. Preferred Freezer corrected these alleged violations in April 2010, the EPA said.

Earlier this month, a Utah scarp-metal company that regularly disposed of fridges and other household appliances agreed to pay $75,000 to settle claims made by the EPA that is had violated Clean Air Act ozone protection rules while processing scrap.

In other enforcement news, Permanent Siding and Windows, a Milford, Conn., contractor specializing in spray-on vinyl siding and replacements of windows and doors, has agreed to a $30,702 settlement. The company is settling claims by the EPA that it failed to provide lead hazard information to home owners or occupants, before doing renovations that may have disturbed surfaces coated with lead-based paint.

The settlement resolves claims made by the agency’s New England office that Permanent failed to provide the EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet to at least 17 owners or occupants before the company began renovation activities.

This pamphlet is required by the federal Pre-Renovation Rule and helps educate home owners or occupants on how to minimize their exposure to hazardous lead dust that is often generated during sanding, cutting, demolition or other renovation activities. The pamphlet also provides resources for more information about lead. The violations in this case took place during renovation work done between January 2006 and March 2009.

And in further enforcement news, this week the EPA began collecting soil samples to test for perchlorate contamination at a home belonging to the owner-operator of a now-defunct fireworks manufacturer.

Mojave Pyrotechnics, Inc., operated in Barstow, Calif., at a different site to the former owner-operator’s home, in the 1980s.

After receiving information indicating perchlorate – a chemical that can affect the reproductive system – had been buried on the property, the EPA discovered a white, solid substance in a layer just below the ground surface in a garden area adjacent to the residence. A sample collected from the layer contained perchlorate.

The residence is near a private drinking water well that was recently discovered to be contaminated with perchlorate. One of the EPA’s goals in this investigation will be to determine whether the site might be a source for perchlorate contamination in the groundwater.

“The EPA will work with the City of Barstow and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board to determine how much perchlorate is at this location,” said Jane Diamond, Director of the Superfund Division in the agency’s Pacific Southwest regional office.

“Cleanup of contamination at the site will be based on the outcomes of the March sampling. We expect to have more information by the end of May,” she added.

In February, the EPA announced it was to introduce limits on the amount of perchlorate present in drinking water.

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