BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As part of a proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Trader Joe's has agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from some of its refrigeration equipment at 453 of its stores nationwide.
The grocery store allegedly violated the Clean Air Act and will have to pay approximately $2 million over the next three years to reduce coolant leaks from their refrigeration equipment. The company will also have to pay $500,000 in a civil penalty.
Trader Joe's supposedly failed to promptly repair leaks of R-22, a hydrofluorocarbon that is an ozone-depleting substance. The chemical is used as a coolant in refrigerators. In addition, the grocery store failed to keep thorough records of refrigeration equipment maintenance and failed to provide information about its compliance record.
Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, says, "Taking action to combat climate change is a priority for the Obama Administration and this settlement will result in substantial cuts to one of the most potent greenhouse gases. The company-wide upgrades Trader Joe's will make are not only good for the environment, they set a high bar for the grocery industry for detecting and fixing coolant leaks."
Trader Joe's will be implementing a corporate refrigerant compliance management system to comply with federal regulations and to detect and repair future leaks through a monitoring program. They will also achieve and maintain an annual company-wide average leak rate of 12.1% through 2019, which is far below the grocery store average of 25%. Any new stores the company opens will use a non-ozone depleting refrigerant.
The anticipated greenhouse gas emission reduction from this settlement is equal to the amount from over 6,500 vehicles driven in a year, the CO2 emissions from burning 33 million pounds of coal, or the carbon sequestered by 25,000 acres of forest in a year.
The settlement with Trader Joe's is the third in a series of national grocery store cases. Other stores filed against were Safeway Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. The full settlement is available to view here.