July 22, 2016

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It’s impossible to imagine that anyone could ever dislike Trader Joe’s.   After all, it is the go-to source for such pantry necessities as cookie butter.  But the US Environmental Protection Agency was less than impressed with the company’s failure to (a) repair leaks of the ozone-depleting coolant R-22, which the company’s stores use to keep your food cool, (b) maintain servicing records of its refrigeration equipment, and (c) provide compliance records.   In a settlement with EPA, Trader Joe’s has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 and spend $2 million over the next three years to reduce coolant leaks from refrigerators and other equipment as well as improve company-wide compliance.

Trader Joe’s will implement a comprehensive compliance system, including a quarterly leak monitoring program, and the use of non-ozone depleting refrigerants at new and remodeled stores.
Cynthia Giles, the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, praised the settlement.  “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.”

This settlement is one of several in a series of national grocery store refrigerant cases, including matters against Safeway and Costco.  EPA regulations require owners and operators of commercial refrigeration equipment that contains over 50 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerants to repair any leaks within 30 days.