The city of Tacoma, Wash., has agreed to pay just under $225,000 in penalties for the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) stemming from its refrigerated appliance disposal service, according to a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to an EPA press release, the city will also pay nearly $300,000 for new pollution-reduction projects in Tacoma.

According to the press release, between October 2004 and August 2007, the City of Tacoma Solid Waste Management Division processed more than 14,600 appliances to recover refrigerants. A flawed purging process resulted in the release of an estimated 4,600 pounds of refrigerant into the environment, according to the consent decree. The CFCs released in violation of the Clean Air Act were equivalent to 32,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, or approximately 530,000 roundtrip commutes between Tacoma and Seattle.

“Every pound of CFCs that enters the environment is a blow to the Earth’s protective ozone layer and a setback in controlling climate change,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10, in the press release. “We expect any facilities that handle refrigerants to have sound practices for recovery.”

The $300,000 fund will be used to reduce green house gas emissions and particulate matter in the Tacoma area. According to the press release, these measures will include:

  • Replacement of one diesel waste collection truck from the city’s fleet of 50 with a truck powered by a hybrid technology that improves fuel efficiency
  • Replacement of one terminal tractor at the city’s landfill facility with a hybrid-electric terminal tractor to reduce diesel emissions
  • Retrofitting ten long haul diesel tractors with diesel particulate filters, which remove harmful particulate matter from diesel exhaust


[CORRECTION: The original headline for this story erroneously stated the amount paid by the City of Tacoma as $525 million. Waste Age regrets the error.]