Trader Joe's - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, GHG Emissions, Regulation  -  June 21, 2016

Trader Joe's to pay $2M to reduce emissions in US settlement over coolant leaks

National grocery store chain Trader Joe’s Co. has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refrigeration equipment at 453 of its stores and pay a $500,000 fine under a proposed settlement with the federal government. 

Under the settlement, reached with the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA, Trader Joe’s will spend an estimated $2 million over the next three years to reduce coolant leaks from refrigerators and other equipment and otherwise improve  compliance across the company, the EPA said June 21. The settlement, according to the EPA, is intended to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. 

The federal government alleged that Trader Joe’s violated the Clean Air Act by failing to promptly repair leaks of R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon that is an ozone-depleting substance and potent greenhouse gas used as a coolant in refrigerators. The company also failed to keep adequate servicing records of its refrigeration equipment and failed to provide information about its compliance record, the EPA said. 

"Taking action to combat climate change is a priority for the Obama Administration and this settlement will result in substantial cuts to one of the most potent greenhouse gases,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said in a statement. "The company-wide upgrades Trader Joe’s will make are not only good for the environment, they set a high bar for the grocery industry for detecting and fixing coolant leaks.”

The settlement is the third in a series of national grocery store refrigerant cases, including cases previously filed against Safeway Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. According to Reuters, Trader Joe's did not admit liability in the case by agreeing to the settlement.

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