As outlined in our December 4, 2017 article, the refrigerant management rules found in 40 CFR 82, Subpart F have seen significant phased-in changes since November 2016, with the final compliance date of January 1, 2019 fast approaching.

What changes will occur on January 1, 2019?

In addition to the numerous changes that came into effect on January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, new key changes will become effective January 1, 2019. These changes apply to leak repair provisions for units with a full charge capacity of greater than or equal to 50 pounds of refrigerant, including:

  • Extending applicability to appliances that contain non-exempt substitutes (e.g., hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants such as R-134a, R-407C, and R-410A);
  • Lowering allowable leak (or repair "trigger") rates:
    • Comfort cooling and other units - 15% to 10%;
    • Commercial refrigeration - 35% to 20%;
    • Industrial process refrigeration - 35% to 30%;
  • Shortening the window for follow-up verification tests from 30 day to 10 days, and expanding verification testing requirements to cover all appliance types, rather than only industrial and federally-owned units;
  • Establishing leak inspection requirements if leaks exceed allowable leak rates. These requirements range from quarterly to annual depending on the size of the unit, and must be performed by certified technicians;
  • Establishing reporting requirements for appliances with a full charge greater than or equal to 50 pounds that are considered "chronic leakers" (i.e., those that leak more than 125% of their full charge in a calendar year);
  • Expanding the recordkeeping requirements to include additional data and types of records;
  • Including language clarifying that the owner/operator is responsible for maintaining all necessary records, and that third party services must provide the owner/operator with the necessary records; and
  • Adding the requirement that notifications and reports must be submitted electronically to 608reports@epa.gov.

What should your facility be doing now?

The changes made in the last two years, and those coming in early 2019, are far reaching and affect nearly every facility in some way. Facilities should be ensuring they have the tools in place to ensure compliance. An initial step to achieving compliance is ensuring each facility has an accurate inventory of all equipment and refrigerants onsite. Trinity recommends that facilities take the following steps in preparation for the January 1, 2019 changes:

  • Conduct an inventory of equipment and refrigerants: Make sure the facility has a complete list of all refrigerant-containing equipment onsite, including appliances (vending machines, refrigerators, etc.). Additionally, see which refrigerants this equipment is using, and whether the used refrigerants are subject to management requirements (which now extend to non-ozone depleting substances).
  • Prepare for new leak provisions on units with a full charge greater than or equal to 50 pounds: If a facility has units of this size, review and prepare for the new leak requirements, including the lower leak repair trigger rates, reporting requirements, and verification testing requirements.
  • Conduct a gap analysis on current compliance: Many new requirements became applicable in 2017 and 2018. Facilities should conduct a full analysis to determine compliance with the current (and fairly new) requirements, including a thorough review that all necessary recordkeeping requirements are being met.

A Word of Caution

Do not assume that use of a third party contractor or a software tool will keep your facility in compliance, especially with the new changes. Compliance with the requirements falls onto the owner/operator of the equipment, so care should be taken to ensure no requirements are being missed. Many software-based tools are out of date, and many third party contractors do not fully understand all of the new and upcoming changes.

Trinity has provided compliance assistance to numerous clients related to this rulemaking, including performing gap assessments, preparing site-wide appliance inventories, and developing compliance programs. Through this experience, Trinity has developed a compliance spreadsheet tool that tracks leak repairs, appliance disposal events, technician and recovery equipment certifications, and associated recordkeeping requirements. For more information on how Trinity may assist your facility with the upcoming refrigerant management rule updates, including the use of the new compliance spreadsheet tool, please contact your local Trinity office, or Kirk Lowery at (614) 433-0733.