I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Environmental Protection Act does not play around when it comes to venting CFCs and HCFCs into the environment. On July, 23rd, 2015 BPC District General Energy Partner Incorporated pleaded guilty to one count of venting R-22 into the atmosphere. (R-22 is a Class 2 O-Zone depleting substance.)
R-22 is an HCFC, and like other similar other refrigerants venting was banned in the 1990s due to the Chlorine that they contained. It was found that when Chlorine was released into the atmosphere it would actively degrade the O-Zone layer. After many years with venting unchecked a hole began to form in the O-Zone layer above Antarctica. In order to stop the hole from expanding and things from getting worse the Montreal Protocol treaty was formed and the phase out of CFCs and HCFCs began.
The thing to note that here is that with BPC District Energy they did not go out back and open a cylinder of R-22 and let it all out. They got fined for leaking refrigerant units. Their machines were leaking over the course of many years and instead of fixing the problem they just kept adding more R-22 refrigerant to the unit. Rinse and repeat over the course of a couple years.
Even though this happened in Canada, I would still like to point out that the EPA specifically says on their website when to intervene when your system is leaking. As a general rule if your unit takes more than fifty pounds of refrigerant and it is leaking at a rate of thirty-five percent of it’s refrigerant over the course of a year than you HAVE to repair the leak or scrap the unit within thirty days. You can read more about the EPA’s guidelines by clicking here.
Also, another interesting link I found was the Environmental Protection Agency’s refrigerant leak flow chart. If you have a leak you follow these steps for resolution
Altogether BPC District Energy were fined $80,000 for venting R-22 into the environment and were fined an additional $20,000 as a ‘victim fine.’ Payment has to be made to in ninety days. Could you company absorb this? Even if it could, who would want to pay this? Check your units for leaks. If they are leaking, fix them!