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Release Date: 6/10/1997
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

      (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has fined Central Telephone Company, commonly known as Sprint, $21,600 for using an unacceptable refrigerant, HC-12a , as a replacement for a banned stratospheric ozone-depleting chemical, chlorofluorocarbon-12 (CFC-12), in the air conditioning units in its vehicle fleet in Las Vegas, Nev.   U.S. EPA has also ordered All Star Rebuilders, a truck and bus fleet service shop in Fresno, Calif. to cease using HC-12a  as a CFC replacement in truck and bus air conditioning systems and truck refrigeration equipment.

          "HC-12a  is a flammable refrigerant and is prohibited for use as a CFC replacement in car, truck, and bus air conditioners because of our concern for safety," said Dave Howekamp, director of U.S. EPA's western regional Air Division.  "There are legal replacements for CFC-12 available and they should be used."

          In June 1995, U.S. EPA banned HC-12a  as a replacement for CFC-12, also known as Freon-12, in motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs). U.S. EPA prohibits the use of HC-12a  as a CFC-12 replacement for all uses except industrial process refrigeration.  The ban on HC-12a  as a CFC-12 replacement covers all types of air conditioning systems and truck trailer refrigeration systems.  Industrial process refrigeration is generally found in petrochemical plants such as oil refineries.

          HC-12a , a flammable hydrocarbon blend, was banned as a CFC replacement for vehicle air conditioning systems and transport refrigeration because it can be unsafe to use a flammable refrigerant in a system not designed for that type of refrigerant.  As of this date, the manufacturer of HC-12a , OZ Technology, Inc., of Rathdrum, Idaho, has not submitted the necessary information to U.S. EPA to demonstrate the safety of using HC-12a  in car and truck air conditioning systems.

     Production of CFCs was banned by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 because they deplete the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, which protects living things from harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Truck and auto repair shop managers that service MVACs and other refrigeration and air conditioning equipment should be aware that the Clean Air Act requires U.S. EPA to evaluate substitutes for CFC-12 refrigerant to determine whether such substitutes are acceptable, from a health and safety standpoint.  If U.S. EPA determines that a substitute is unacceptable, its use in MVACs, air conditioning and certain other applications is illegal.

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