Officials have reached an agreement with a Houston-based company over alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.
Under a proposed settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Derichebourg Recycling USA Inc. will prevent the release of ozone-depleting refrigerants and non-exempt substitutes from refrigerant-containing items at its 10 scrap metal recycling facilities in Texas and Oklahoma. Derichebourg also will pay a $442,500 penalty.
Derichebourg Recycling USA’s parent company is France-based Derichebourg SA, an operator of scrap metal recycling facilities.
A complaint filed in federal court alleges Derichebourg Recycling USA failed to recover refrigerant from appliances and motor vehicle air conditioners before disposal, and failed to verify with the supplier that refrigerant had been properly recovered before delivery.
The complaint focuses on alleged Clean Air Act violations at three Derichebourg scrap metal recycling facilities in Houston: 7501 Wallisville Rd., 8202 W. Montgomery Rd., and 1 Wharf St. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspections in 2018 led to the complaint.
Derichebourg operates three other facilities in the Houston area: 3515 Almeda Genoa Rd. and 6648 N. Eldridge Pkwy., both in Houston, and 13319 FM 1764 in Santa Fe.
“To continue protecting stratospheric ozone, we need companies like Derichebourg to comply with the Clean Air Act when recycling appliances and motor vehicles containing harmful refrigerants,” Todd Kim, an assistant U.S. attorney general, says in a January 7 news release.
The refrigerant, R-12, is one of the most destructive ozone-depleting substances and has a global warming potential greater than 10,000 times the power of carbon dioxide, according to the news release.
“Refrigerants that are not captured properly can be damaging to the earth’s ozone layer and are known to increase greenhouse gasses, which leads to climate change,” says Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator of the EPA.
The agreement, called a consent decree, still requires approval from a federal judge in Houston. The consent decree is signed by two EPA attorneys and the CEO of Derichebourg Recycling USA, Philippe Leonard.