EPA Proposes Revisions to Section 608 Refrigerant Management Regulations

On September 18, 2018, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the proposed rule, “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant Management Program’s Extension to Substitutes”. This action proposes to revisit the Agency’s recent approach to regulating appliances containing substitute refrigerants such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by proposing to rescind the November 18, 2016 extension of the leak repair provisions to appliances using substitute refrigerants. This proposal also requests public comment on rescinding other provisions that were extended to substitute refrigerants, namely HFC’s. This proposal would not affect the requirements for ozone-depleting refrigerants such as CFC’s or HCFC’s.  If finalized as proposed, this action would rescind the leak repair and maintenance requirements at 40 CFR 82.157 for substitute refrigerants and would go back to applying only to ozone-depleting substances.

 What the proposed rule would do

The EPA’s new proposed rule would rescind the following requirements for appliances with 50 or more pounds of HFCs:

  • conduct leak rate calculations when refrigerant is added to an appliance,
  • repair an appliance that leaks above a threshold leak rate,
  • conduct verification tests on repairs,
  • conduct periodic leak inspections on appliances that exceed the threshold leak rate,
  • report to EPA on chronically leaking appliances,
  • retrofit or retire appliances that are not repaired, and
  • maintain related records.

The EPA, through this proposed rule, is requesting public comment regarding further action to rescind other provisions that were extended to HFC’s, including the following:

  • Anyone purchasing refrigerant for use in an appliance or handling substitute refrigerants (e.g., air-conditioning and refrigeration service contractors and technicians) must be a Section 608-certified technician,
  • Anyone removing refrigerant from a refrigeration or air-conditioning appliance must evacuate substitute refrigerant to certain level using certified refrigerant recovery equipment before servicing or disposing of the appliance,
  • The final disposer (e.g., scrap recycler, landfill) of small appliances, like refrigerators and window air conditioners, must ensure and document that substituted refrigerant is recovered before final disposal, and
  • All used refrigerant must be reclaimed to industry purity standards before it can be sold to another appliance owner.

This proposed rule will have a 45-day public comment period. To view the public docket in the Federal Register, visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0629.

A Refresher: 2016 Rule Summary

On November 18th, 2016, the EPA issued a final rule updating its refrigerant management regulations. While the regulation took effect on January 1st, 2017, some provisions had compliance dates of January 1st, 2018, and January 1st, 2019. Among other things, that rule extended the refrigerant management requirements to common substitutes like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The 2016 rule and the compliance dates currently remain in effect.

The 2016 rule made the following changes to the existing requirements under Section 608:

1.) Extended the requirements of the Refrigerant Management Program to cover substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs. Note that EPA has previously exempted some substitutes from the Section 608 venting prohibition through previous rules. Such substitutes are also exempt from the requirements of this rule. This fact sheet describes the requirements of the Section 608 Refrigerant Management Program. Fact sheets on how the rule affects the Program are found at the bottom of this page.

2.) Lowered the leak rate thresholds that trigger the duty to repair refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant.

  • Lowered from 35% to 30% for industrial process refrigeration (IPR)
  • Lowered from 35% to 20% for commercial refrigeration equipment
  • Lowered from 15% to 10% for comfort cooling equipment

3.) Required quarterly/annual leak inspections or continuous monitoring devices for refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that have exceeded the threshold leak rate.

4.) Required owners/operators to submit reports to EPA if systems containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant leak 125% or more of their full charge in one calendar year.

5.) Extended the sales restriction to HFCs and other non-exempt substitutes, with the exception of small cans (containing 2 pounds or less) of non-exempt substitutes (e.g., primarily HFC-134a) for motor vehicle air conditioner servicing. These small cans can continue to be sold without technician certification so long as the small cans have a self-sealing valve to reduce refrigerant releases.

6.) Required technicians to keep a record of refrigerant recovered during system disposal from systems with a charge size from 5–50 lbs.

California’s Proposition 65 Regulations

Recently, we’ve received questions regarding whether Dynatemp’s products require a Proposition 65 label or not. In this post, we hope to answer your questions and provide you with links to all of the Prop 65 information you may need.
  1.  As seen on the Prop 65 website: “Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals.”
  2.  Cylinders that contain brass need Prop 65 warning labels because of the lead component in brass. Dynatemp’s cylinders do not contain brass and therefore do not need a Prop 65 label.
  3.  At this time all of the refrigerants we offer are not on the Prop 65 list and do not require a warning label.
In conclusion, none of Dynatemp’s products require a Prop 65 warning label. If changes occur we will keep you posted.
Follow the link for more Prop 65 info, including lists of affected products and FAQs.

Late Summer Refrigerant Industry Update

Dear Dynatemp Refrigerants Distributor,
After recent trade negotiations, the United States has announced tariffs on a wide range of products being imported from China. While the list of items covered is extensive, of significance to the refrigerant market is the inclusion of several categories of common refrigerants.

Refrigerants affected by this include:
-HFC Blends (R410A, R407x, R404A, etc)
*Note that these are already subject to duties, and are generally not being imported from China*
-Many other commonly used refrigerants

While the proposed tariffs are subject to 60 days of comment before becoming applicable, the market may react by moving prices up in the near term. Dynatemp is committed to keeping our prices as competitive as possible, even in the face of rising costs. Please contact your local sales representative for current pricing and market information.

In addition to potential tariffs, uncertainty regarding regulations and timelines for an HFC phasedown continue to cast doubt on the future of the refrigerant market. While the Kigali Amendment is still awaiting a vote by the Senate, recent statements from officials in government and industry indicate broad support for the measure across the aisle. However, the current climate in Washington, DC makes predicting a timeline for action difficult. Weather continues to play a major part in our business, and NOAA is predicting further heat and low humidity for much of the West and Pacific Northwest, exacerbating fire control efforts, and endangering more and more people. The South and East (to Mid-Atlantic) should see wetter, cooler
weather for a short period of time. As the cooling season winds down in much of the country over the next few months, we will re-evaluate pricing in the market as many of the pieces fall into place regarding regulations and tariffs.

We appreciate your ongoing support of Dynatemp Refrigerants as we transition through the HCFC Phaseout and the regulatory landscape of the other refrigerants. Please remember that this is the most important time to discuss your refrigerant management program, which should include reclamation and recycling as well as an R22 replacement refrigerant, such as Choice™ R421A. After thousands of successful retrofits, Choice™ R-421A has emerged as “The Easy Choice” for R22 replacement. Please ask your local sales representative about our comprehensive refrigerant reclamation
and replacement programs.

Will Gresham
Vice President
Dynatemp Refrigerants

More States Advocate for HFC Reductions

On the one-year anniversary of the Trump Administration withdrawing from the global Paris Agreement, seventeen U.S. Governors, representing over 40% of the nation’s population, announced a new wave of climate actions on June 1 as part of their efforts with the United States Climate Alliance (USCA).  States that are part of this initiative are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont,Virginia, Washington and the territory of Puerto Rico.

Developing a short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) plan is part of a new wave of climate action initiatives.  Those initiatives include:

  • Reducing Super Pollutants (HFC’s)
  • Mobilizing Financing for Climate Projects
  • Grid Modernization
  • Renewable Energy
  • Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards
  • Building Resilient Communities and Infrastructure
  • Increasing Carbon Storage in our Landscapes
  • Deploying Clean Transportation

The USCA pointed out to strategies which reduce HFC emissions as “those technologies that promote more energy efficient systems that lower costs for businesses and households, support the leadership of U.S. businesses developing alternatives to HFCs, and increase the need for skilled technicians and system designers.”

As an example, the state of New York has directed state departments to reduce HFC emissions through regulatory, incentive, and capacity building.  The NY Department of Environmental Conservation is monitoring the initiative and other agencies have been directed to work on this item.  In his 2018 State of the State, New York Governor Cuomo directed state agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce HFC emissions through a suite of regulatory, incentive, and capacity-building programs.

The Alliance said it “invites all national and subnational jurisdictions, businesses and other actors to bring commitments to reduce short-lived climate pollutants to the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California this September.”  More information can be found here.  http://globalclimateactionsummit.org/.