U.S. EPA sets dates for reaction to Section 608 rollback proposal

Hearing slated for Oct 16, comments due by November 15, on plan to eliminate extension of leak rules to HFCs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing on October 16 and receive written comments until November 15 in regard to a proposed rule that would rescind the leak repair and maintenance requirements for stationary refrigeration and air conditioning equipment containing HFCs.

These dates were announced on October 1 when the EPA published the proposed rule – Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant Management Program's Extension to Substitutes – in the Federal Register. The proposal was originally announced last month.

The hearing will be held in Washington, DC. More details about the hearing can be found at www.epa.gov/section608. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov, using EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0629 as the Docket ID. For further information contact: Jeremy Arling at the EPA by telephone: (202) 343-9055; or by email: arling.jeremy@epa.gov.

True Manufacturing, a producer of self-contained refrigeration cases, plans to voice objections to the proposed rule, said Charles Hon, its engineering manager. “It’s a serious problem,” he said. “If it goes through, you can leak [HFCs].”

It’s a serious problem. If it goes through, you can leak [HFCs].”
– Charles Hon, engineering manager, True Manufacturing

The requirements the EPA is seeking to rescind were part of an update to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act issued on November 18, 2016. Under the update, the EPA extended the refrigerant management rules – originally designed for ozone-depleting substances (ODS) – to common ODS substitutes like HFCs.

Section 608 requirements generally apply to supermarkets and other end users of large refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. It asks them to perform repairs for refrigerant leaks above a certain threshold, which in the 2016 update was lowered from 35% to 20% of annual refrigerant charge for supermarkets. Leak inspection and repair verification requirements under the updated rule are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019.

However, under the proposed rule, the EPA would revert to the original language of Section 608, which pertains only to leak repair and maintenance of ODS equipment.

The agency is also requesting comment on whether it should also rescind additional requirements set forth in the 2016 rule pertaining to HFCs, such as the provision requiring purchasers or handlers to be Section 608-certified technicians. Hon said True opposes “people getting into the service industry who may not have the necessary skill sets.”

In addition, the EPA is proposing to extend by six to 12 months the January 1, 2019, compliance date for when HFC appliances must begin complying with leak repair and maintenance provisions.

By Michael Garry

Oct 05, 2018, 18:06

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