U.S.: Safeway to pay US$600,000 penalty over greenhouse gas emissions
Supermarket chain Safeway Inc (NYSE: SWY) has reached a "first-of-its-kind" settlement with the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, resolving allegations it violated the Clean Air Act (CAA).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice announced today the country's second largest grocery chain had agreed to pay a US$600,000 civil penalty and implement a US$4.1 million plan to significantly reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances from refrigeration equipment at 659 stores.
The release said the settlement covered the largest number of facilities ever under the CAA's regulations governing refrigeration equipment.
The release said the company had allegedly failed to promptly repair leaks of hydro-chlorofluorocarbon HCFC-22, which can be up to 1,800 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming emissions. However, the settlement resolves these allegations and Safeway is expected to prevent more than 1,000lbs of future ozone-depleting refrigerant releases.
This goal is expected to be reached through a corporate refrigerant compliance management system, as well as a plan to reduce the average leak rate from 25% in 2012 to 18% or less by 2015.
Safeway also intends to reduce aggregate refrigerant emissions at its highest-emission stores by 10% each year for three years.
"This first-of-its-kind settlement will benefit all Americans by cutting emissions of ozone-depleting substances across Safeway’s national supermarket chain," said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"It can serve as a model for comprehensive solutions that improve industry compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act."
Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said Safeway's new commitment to reduce pollution and protect the ozone layer was "vital and significant".
"Fixing leaks, improving compliance and reducing emissions will make a real difference in protecting us from the dangers of ozone depletion, while reducing the impact on climate change."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ceiling.