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EPA and New York City Settle CFC Lawsuit; City to Spend $3 Million on Alternative Fuels; Pay $1 Million in Penalties

Release Date: 08/07/2000
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(#00151) New York, New York – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Jeanne M. Fox announced today that the Federal Government has settled a civil lawsuit filed against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Sanitation in March 1999, which charged that they have been in violation of the Clean Air Act since 1992. According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of EPA by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the city knowingly released ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the environment when disposing of household appliances discarded by New York City residents. The city has agreed to pay a $1 million penalty and will undertake approximately $3 million worth of supplemental environmental projects to benefit the environment in New York City.

The city was cited for collecting discarded appliances from New York City residents in vehicles that compact or crush the appliances without first removing refrigerants, which contain ozone-depleting substances or verifying that refrigerants were previously removed from the appliances. In the process of compacting the appliances, ozone-depleting substances contained in appliances as refrigerants are released as gases into the environment. The Federal Government also charged that ozone-depleting substances were released into the environment at the city household appliance collection centers.

The settlement requires the city to comply with the Clean Air Act and to pay $1 million in penalties for the violations. The city has submitted a plan to the government designed to assure that they are in compliance in the future. The settlement requires the city to buy nine ultra-low polluting compressed natural gas (CNG) heavy duty trucks which will be operated by DOS, and build a CNG station to fuel these and other CNG trucks. In addition, the city will construct six CNG fueling stations for light duty vehicles, including one fueling station at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection headquarters and another fueling station at the city’s Department of Transportation headquarters, both of which are located in Corona, Queens. The settlement also requires the city to conduct two pilot programs, which will involve purchasing and testing two different types of devices that are intended to reduce emissions, including particulates, from garbage trucks which utilize conventional diesel fuel. The city will be required to purchase 60 of these control devices. The city is expected to spend $570,000 on the purchase of the heavy-duty CNG-powered trucks, $1.25 million on building the heavy duty fueling station, $880,000 for the six light duty vehicle fueling stations; and $300,000 to conduct the pilot programs involving the purchase and testing of the emission control devices.

Ms. Fox noted that: "This settlement not only penalizes the city for their violations, it also will benefit the residents of New York City by requiring the city to invest in ultra-clean vehicles and in some of the infrastructure needed to maintain them."

The Clean Air Act was enacted in 1990 to protect the layer of stratospheric ozone that shields the earth from harmful UV-B radiation from the sun that may cause skin cancers, cataracts and other harmful conditions. An increase in the amount of UV-B radiation that reaches the earth as the stratospheric ozone is depleted is also associated with global warming. The Clean Air Act regulates emissions of substances such as CFCs, to significantly reduce the release of substances that might deplete the ozone layer.