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California rolls out refrigeration regulations

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is rolling out unprecedented state regulations on supermarkets and other facilities that use commercial refrigeration systems

In an effort to reduce leaks of refrigerant gases, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is rolling out unprecedented state regulations on supermarkets and other facilities that use commercial refrigeration systems.

The regulations, launched in January 2011 but scheduled to ramp up on Jan. 1, 2012, apply to any business using more than 50 pounds of refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP); these refrigerants include the HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) commonly used by food retailers.

The initial regulations include periodic leak inspection (annually, quarterly or monthly, depending on size), repairs, retrofit or retirement plans, required service practices and recordkeeping; any detected leaks must be repaired within 14 days of discovery. Adding 5 pounds or more of refrigerant, or 1 per cent or more, would trigger a leak inspection under the rules.

The new requirements taking effect in January will apply to about 2,000 facilities with greater than 2,000 pounds of high-GWP refrigerant, including some supermarkets. In addition to paying annual dues - $377 (£233), the affected businesses have until March 1 to register with the ARB and submit an annual report on their refrigerant usage.

Their facilities must operate a leak detection system that uses sensors or diagnostic equipment, though “a lot of supermarkets already have [a leak detection system] in their mechanical room,” noted Yvette DiCarlo, the ARB’s outreach lead for the refrigeration management program.

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