The California Air Resources Board Wednesday announced a $5.1 million settlement agreement with the Albertsons grocery chain for violations of a state program that regulates large stationary industrial refrigerant systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with some of the funds to be used to install air filtration systems in Southland schools.
During regular inspections under the Refrigerant Management Program, CARB investigators found that Albertsons failed to comply with the program’s requirements across Albertsons stores in California between 2016-2018, according to a statement issued by the agency.
Violations, according to CARB, included failure to annually audit and calibrate automatic leak detection equipment; failure to ensure that all detected refrigerant leaks were repaired within 14 days of detection by a certified technician; failure to accurately register and report their stores’ refrigeration systems; and failure to maintain required records for at least five years.
Albertsons “was fully cooperative throughout the investigation; made good faith efforts to come into compliance and reach a settlement with CARB; and, signed a compliance plan to ensure ongoing compliance with the RMP regulation,” according to the agency statement.
The settlement with The Albertsons Cos. Inc. includes a $2.55 million civil penalty and $2.55 million in funding — to be equally split — for two Supplemental Environmental Projects. The money will be used to install air filtration systems in schools through the South Coast Air Quality Management District and for a Placer County community-based project through the Placer County Air Quality Management District.
The South Coast AQMD is the regulatory agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
“California committed to an accelerated reduction of greenhouse gases to meet state targets, and the Refrigerant Management Program has been a highly successful tool for achieving our climate goals,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “I’d like to congratulate our investigation and settlement teams for their effort and diligence in identifying and processing this case.”
The Refrigerant Management Program was adopted in 2009 as a measure under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary refrigeration systems. According to CARB, most refrigeration systems in retail food use high-global refrigerants that have a high global warming potential, trapping heat in the atmosphere much more effectively than carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.