A large grocery chain with a significant presence in Alaska has reached a settlement with the EPA about alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Safeway is the second largest grocery store chain in the U.S. and the company has 24 Carrs Safeway stores in Alaska including in Kodiak, Unalaska, Anchorage, Kenai, Soldotna and Homer.
The EPA confirms that the company has reached a settlement agreement with the EPA and the Justice Department to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act by failing to promptly repair leaks of an ozone-depleting substance used as a coolant in refrigerators. The Federal Government also alleged that Safeway failed to keep adequate records of the servicing of its refrigeration equipment. As part of the settlement the company will implement a corporate-wide plan to significantly reduce its emission of ozone-depleting substances from refrigeration equipment at over 600 stores nationwide including the stores in Alaska. The EPA is estimating the new plan will cost Safeway over $4-million dollars.
The agreement calls for Safeway to reduce its average leak rate of HCFC-22 from 25 percent to 18-percent or lower by 2015. The agreement also calls for Safeway to reduce the refrigerant emissions at its highest-emission stores by 10-percent each year for the next 3-years. Safeway will also pay a $600-thousand dollar civil penalty. The Justice Department confirms that the settlement involves the largest number of facilities ever under the Clean Air Act’s regulations that govern refrigeration equipment.
The substance at the heart of the allegations against Safeway is HCFC-22, which the EPA says is 18-hundred times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming emissions. The EPA anticipates the agreement with Safeway will prevent over 100-thousand pounds of future releases. The United States is implementing a ban on the production and importation of HCFC-22 by the year 2020 and the settlement with Safeway is part of the EPA’s national enforcement initiative.
Safeway is based in California and has over 14-stores nationwide. Last year the company posted revenues of over $44-billion dollars. The settlement between Safeway and the Justice Department was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.