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Connecticut Company Pays Fine for Ozone Violations in North Haven

Release Date: 05/03/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - 05/03/06) - United States Surgical, of North Haven, Conn., will pay a fine of $56,320 to settle an EPA complaint for Clean Air Act violations. The settlement resolves EPA concerns regarding violations that include failure to repair in a timely way a leaking refrigeration unit that over the course of more than five months leaked more than 500 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere.

US Surgical is a division of Tyco HealthCare Group LP, and is based in Norwalk, Conn. An EPA investigation showed that US Surgical failed to adequately repair a leak of ozone-depleting substances from an industrial process refrigeration unit, failed to conduct certain leak repair tests, and failed to keep required service records for repairs of some units, all in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

“The ozone layer provides important protection to all of us from the sun’s harmful rays,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s important that companies and individuals who work with ozone-depleting substances follow appropriate steps to ensure the materials are not released into the atmosphere. This helps keep the ozone layer intact.”

Certain types of refrigerants have been known to destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. The stratospheric ozone layer protects humans from being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Federal stratospheric ozone protection regulations were established to limit the emissions of substances that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations provide strict rules governing the service, maintenance, repair and disposal of ozone-depleting substances. Most of these substances are being phased out and replaced with safer alternatives.

US Surgical manufactures wound closure products and advanced surgical devices. The North Haven facility contains more than 40 industrial process refrigeration units.

During the past few months, EPA’s New England office has filed formal complaints and proposed penalties against several other companies for similar violations, namely: Kraft Foods of Woburn, Mass.; Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation of Stratford, Conn.; and Cambridge Brands, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

The complaint stemmed from a referral in 2004 from the State of Connecticut. The states do not have the authority to enforce the ozone protection rules; only EPA has this authority.

More information on EPA New England’s Air Enforcement Program: