The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement today that requires Parkway Iron and Metal Co. to pay $145,000 and spend approximately $260,000 to install pollution controls for alleged Clean Air Act violations at its scrap metal recycling business in Clifton, N.J. The company was fined for improperly shredding dozens of refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners without first removing refrigerants, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs). Appliances containing CFCs and HFCs can be recycled as long as the refrigerants are properly removed first.

“Chlorofluorocarbons damage the ozone layer, which shields the earth from harmful radiation that contributes to increased skin cancer,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA’s work will benefit the people of Clifton and result in less greenhouse gases and ozone depleting chemicals being released into the atmosphere.”

HFCs are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Climate change impacts people’s health in a number of ways, including by damaging air quality. Higher temperatures lead to an increase in allergens and harmful air pollutants. For instance, longer warm seasons can mean longer pollen seasons – which can increase allergic sensitivity and asthma episodes and diminish productive work and school days. Higher temperatures associated with climate change can also lead to an increase in ground level ozone, a harmful air pollutant. CFCs are atmospheric ozone depleting chemicals that cause the protective ozone layer to thin – allowing more cancer-causing ultraviolet rays to reach the Earth.

The EPA requested information from Parkway to ensure compliance with ozone-depletion regulations and inspected the company on multiple occasions. These inspections revealed violations of Clean Air Act regulations, resulting in this settlement.

In addition to paying the penalty, Parkway has agreed to comply with the Clean Air Act. Before recycling appliances, Parkway will remove all refrigerants at no cost to the appliance seller. Parkway will properly dispose of the recovered refrigerants, ensuring that CFCs and HFCs are not released to the atmosphere.

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