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American Seafoods Company Violates Clean Air Act - Agrees to Restitution

It's been announced that American Seafoods Company, LLC, and its sister company, Pacific Longline Company, LLC, both of Seattle, must pay a $700,000 penalty, phase out their use of ozone depleting refrigerants, and perform restitution for multiple violations, which include illegally importing over 70,000 kilograms of R-22 between 2006 and 2009, failures to promptly repair ozone depleting refrigerant leaks, failures to make certain repairs were adequate, failure to employ certified repair personnel, and failure to keep accurate repair records.

According to EPA reports, because American Seafoods and Pacific Longline illegally brought R-22 into the U.S. without the required holding allowances, in order to ameliorate environmental harm, they must purchase and retire the amount of allowances they would have needed to legally use R-22 during that time period. These companies have also agreed to put an approximated 9 million to 15 million dollars into converting several vessel refrigeration units into non-ozone depleting units.

The R-22 American Seafoods brought in was used in the industrial refrigeration units on board company catcher-processor vessels. R-22, also known as chlorodifluoromethane or HCFC-22, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). HCFC's are being phased out as per the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (international treaty) and the Clean Air Act (U.S.). R-22 is currently allowed in the U.S. only for equipment manufactured prior to 2010, and then only to those with valid cap and trade allowance holdings.

HCFC's are linked to stratospheric ozone depletion. The ozone in our atmosphere is most concentrated in the lower portion of the stratosphere, located at only 10 to 22 miles from the surface of the earth. Stratospheric ozone serves to protect life on earth from harmful UV radiation and damage. Depletion has been linked to increasing occurrences of skin cancer, cataracts, immune system problems, and crop damage.

Marine phytoplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain, also may be under stress from increased UV radiation. American Seafoods is among the largest US seafood harvester-processors of cod, hake, pollock, and yellow fin sole, selling their seafood products globally, so if HCFC's are affecting the very foodchain upon which their success depends, it's logical that companies like American Seafoods and Pacific Longline would see this as another good reason to phase out HCFC's.

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