EPA Releases Final Protection of Stratospheric Ozone Rule



On November 18, 2016, U.S. EPA published the final rule, "Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act” in the Federal Register (81 FR 82272).  These updates, which represent a major overhaul of the provisions of 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F, were originally proposed on November 11, 2015.  The November 2015 proposal made numerous substantial updates to the rule including extending the requirements to cover substitute refrigerants that do not contain ozone depleting substances (ODS), lowering the leak rate thresholds that trigger repair requirements, adding leak inspection or monitoring requirements, as well as numerous other updates which are summarized here.

The final rule was signed on September 26, 2016 by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  The final rule includes numerous changes in response to comments received on the proposal and will become effective January 1, 2017.  A brief summary of the significant changes from the proposed rule is provided below:

  • The November 2015 proposed rule revised applicability to include requirements for non-ODS.  The final rule clarifies "exempt substitutes" and "non-exempt substitutes" in order to better identify which non-ODS substitutes are exempt and are not subject to any provisions of the rule.
  • The final rule provides a January 1, 2017 effective date with varying compliance dates of January 1, 2017, January 1, 2018 (1 year), and January 1, 2019 (2 years), depending on the provision.  Note that the revised leak repair provisions, including their applicability to non-exempt substitutes, have a compliance date of January 1, 2019.
  • The final rule includes a revised allowable leak rate threshold of 30% for repair of industrial process refrigeration appliances; the November 2015 proposed rule included a 20% allowable leak rate threshold for repair of such units.
  • The November 2015 proposed rule required proactive leak inspections based on size of the appliance.  The final rule specifies that leak inspections are triggered if the leak rate exceeds the allowable leak rate threshold in rule (e.g., 30% for industrial process refrigeration appliances, 20% for commercial refrigeration appliances, and 10% for comfort cooling and other appliances) and further clarifies what is meant by inspecting "all visible and accessible components of an appliance."
  • Various definitions were updated/clarified including "retire" and "disposal."
  • Retrofit and retirement plan off-ramp provisions are included with specific deadlines for submitting requests; the November 2015 proposed language had eliminated all off-ramp provisions.
  • The November 2015 proposed rule included chronic leaker provisions that required the retirement of appliances that leaked ≥ 75% of their full charge in two consecutive 12-month periods.  The final rule instead provides reporting requirements for units that leak ≥ 125% of full charge in a calendar year.
  • The final rule amends the definition of "appliance" to clarify that for systems containing multiple circuits, each independent circuit is considered a separate appliance.

To read the final regulation, click here.  A comprehensive comparison of the current rule, proposed November 2015 rule, and final 2016 rule, is shown below. You may also download the table here.

Summary of Key Revisions to Refrigerant Management Requirements for Stationary Systems (40 CFR 82, Subpart F)
(BOLD text denotes changes made to final rule since 11/9/2015 proposal)

Provision or TopicCurrent RuleProposed New Rule
(11/9/2015, 80 FR 69457)*
Final New Rule
(11/18/2016, 81 FR 82272)

Applicability to non-ozone depleting substance (ODS) substitutes

Venting prohibition is only provision that applies and it is limited to non-ODS substitutes that are not specifically exempted under 82.154(a)

Substitutes are defined as refrigerants and coverage is expanded for non-ODS substitutes to all provisions of rule, including sales, evacuation, recovery/recycling equipment, technician certification, leak repair, and reclamation provisions

Non-ODS substitutes that are specifically listed as exempt under 82.154(a) are not subject to any provisions of the rule

Compliance date for sales restrictions on new and used refrigerant, sales restrictions on appliances (process stub/servicing aperture), and revised standards for sale/import of recovery/recycling equipment = effective date of the rule

Compliance date for leak repair provisions = 18 months from promulgation*

Compliance date for all other requirements = 1 year from promulgation*

Applicability to non-ODS substitutes is same as proposed with relatively minor edits

Amends definition of substitute to define terms “exempt substitutes” and “non-exempt substitutes” to identify which non-ODS substitutes are specifically listed as exempt in 82.154(a) and are not subject to any provisions of the rule

Compliance date for sales restrictions on used refrigerant, sales restrictions on appliances (process stub/servicing aperture), and revised standards for sale/import of recovery/recycling equipment = 1/1/2017 (effective date of the rule)

Compliance date for leak repair provisions = 1/1/2019 (2 years)

Compliance date for all other requirements, including sales restrictions on new refrigerants = 1/1/2018 (1 year)

Leak Provisions (applies to appliances with full charge ≥ 50 lbs) - Repair and Verification

Comfort cooling

No definition in rule; had to classify based on definitions of industrial process refrigeration and commercial refrigeration in 82.152 and historical guidance

Adds new definition as follows, which is consistent with historical guidance:

Comfort cooling means the air conditioning appliances used to provide cooling in order to control heat and/or humidity in facilities including but not limited to office buildings and commercial buildings.  Comfort cooling appliances include building chillers and roof-top self-contained units.  They may be used for the comfort of occupants or for climate control to protect equipment within a facility, including but not limited to computer rooms.

Compliance date = effective date

Simplifies proposed definition in 82.152, including limiting definition to appliances used to cool spaces occupied by people (i.e., not equipment or computer rooms)

Comfort cooling means the air-conditioning appliances used to provide cooling in order to control heat and/or humidity in occupied facilities including but not limited to residential, office, and commercial buildings. Comfort cooling appliances include but are not limited to chillers, commercial split systems, and packaged roof-top units.

Uses term “other appliances” within leak rate provisions [82.157(c)(2)(iii)] and leak inspection provisions [(82.157(g)(1)(iii)] to indicate such units (e.g., units that cool equipment/computer rooms) are subject to same requirements as CCAs

Allowable leak (or repair trigger) rates

Existing allowable leak rates:
IPRAs = 35%
CRAs = 35%
CCAs = 15%

Revised allowable leak rates:
IPRAs = 20%
CRAs = 20%
CCAs = 10%
Other appliances = 10%

Compliance date = 18 months

Allowable leak rates revised in 82.157(c)(2):
IPRAs = 30%
CRAs = 20%
CCAs = 10%
Other appliances = 10%

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Extent of required leak repairs

Requires repairs to bring the leak rate to below the applicable allowable leak (or repair trigger) rate [see 82.156(i)(1), (i)(2), (i)(3), & (i)(5)]

Requires identification and repair of all leaks; all leaks must be repaired such that there are no “detectable leaks,” as documented by initial and follow-up verification testing

Compliance date = 18 months

Returns to the requirement to make repairs to bring the leak rate to below the applicable allowable leak (or repair trigger) rate [see 82.157(d)(2)]; however, must repair all identified leaks to reset term when using the rolling average method to calculate the leak rate

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Initial and follow-up verification tests

Applicable only to IPRAs, federally owned CRAs, and federally owned CCAs subject to leak repair provisions

 

Requires follow-up verification test to be performed within 30 days of the initial verification test

Expands coverage to include all types of appliances subject to the leak repair provisions, including non-federally owned CRAs and non-federally owned CCAs

 

Requires follow-up verification test to be performed within 10 days of 1) a successful initial verification test or 2) the appliance reaching normal operating characteristics and conditions

 

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed [see 82.157(e)]

 

Adds allowance to conduct follow-up verification test prior to system returning to normal operating characteristics and conditions if unsafe or impossible to conduct test when system is operating at normal operating characteristics and conditions

 

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Available extensions to 30-day repair window

Available extensions vary by appliance type as follows:

Non-federally owned CRAs/CCAs = 1) system mothballing

Federally owned CRAs/CCAs = 1) system mothballing, and 2) delays due to radiological contamination issues (no limit to extension that can be requested)

IPRAs = 1) system mothballing, 2) industrial process shutdown (extends repair window to 120 days), and 3) for delays beyond your control (can request up to 1 year extension)

Creates more standard list of available extensions across all appliances subject to the leak repair provisions, which includes:

  1. Industrial process shutdown required (still only applicable to IPRAs and triggers 120-day repair window)
  2. Mothballing
  3. Appliance located in an area subject to radiological contamination
  4. Federal, state, or local regulations make repair within allowable window impossible
  5. Necessary parts are unavailable

Owner/operator must submit request to EPA within the applicable repair window to obtain extensions #3-#5; request is considered approved unless EPA notifies owner/operator within 30 days of receipt of the request

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed with relatively minor wording changes [see 82.157(f)]

Removes the 30 day window regarding EPA approval of extension requests

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Leak inspections

None

Requires proactive leak inspections as follows:

  • IPRAs & CRAs ≥ 500 lbs – quarterly
  • All other appliances ≥ 50 lbs – annually

Inspections must be performed on “all visible parts of the appliance”

Includes provisions to allow owners/operators of federally owned appliances to request alternative schedule, but cannot be < than every 3 years

Can forego inspections if install and calibrate automatic leak detection systems

Compliance date = 18 months

Inspections only required for appliances that exceed applicable allowable leak rate as follows [see 82.157(g)]:

  • IPRAs & CRAs ≥ 500 lbs – quarterly, until there are 4 consecutive quarters with no leaks above applicable allowable leak rate
  • All other appliances ≥ 50 lbs – annually until one year with no leaks above applicable allowable leak rate

Inspection must be performed on “all visible and accessible components” with 3 exceptions (i.e., insulated/iced/inaccessible, require 2 meter elevation of inspector above support service, or unsafe to inspect components)

Clarifies that activity must identify leak location (not just determine whether appliance is leaking)

Requires inspections to be performed by certified technicians

Eliminates alternative schedule provision for federally owned appliances

Can forego inspections if install and calibrate automatic leak detection systems

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Chronic leaker provision

None

Requires retirement of appliances that leak ≥ 75% of full charge in 2 consecutive 12-month periods

Compliance date = 18 months

Requires submittal of report for appliances that leak ≥ 125% of full charge in calendar year; report due 3/1 of following year [see 82.157( j)]; calculation is based on amount of refrigerant added in calendar year divided by the full charge (i.e., does not follow standard leak rate calculation methods in 82.152)

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Seasonal variance provisions

None

Amends definition of full charge to account for seasonal variances and allows additions of refrigerant due to a change in season to be excluded from leak rate provisions if followed by subsequent removal of equal amount of refrigerant in the corresponding change in season, where both the addition and removal occurs within one consecutive 12-month period

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed with minor revisions

Amends definition of full charge to account for seasonal variances and allows for removal of refrigerant due to a change in season to be excluded from leak rate provisions if followed by subsequent addition of an amount that is less than or equal to amount removed in prior change in season, where both the removal and addition occurs within one consecutive 12-month period [see 82.152 & 82.157(b)]

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Leak Provisions (applies to appliances with full charge ≥ 50 lbs) - Retrofit and Retirement

Retrofit and retirement plans

Existing rule does not contain definitions of retrofit or retire, but indicates that retrofits and replacements of retired appliances must use refrigerant with a lower or equivalent ODP [see 82.156(i)(6)]

Existing rule does not have any specific content requirements for retrofit and retirement plans and does not require repair of leaks as part of retrofits

Adds definitions of retrofit and retire that eliminate restriction to use refrigerant with a lower or equivalent ODP as follows:

Retire, when referring to an appliance, means the disassembly of the entire appliance including its major components, such that the appliance as a whole cannot be used by any person in the future.

Retrofit means to convert an appliance from one refrigerant to another refrigerant.  Retrofitting includes the conversion of the appliance to achieve system compatibility with the new refrigerant and may include, but is not limited to, changes in lubricants, gaskets, filters, driers, valves, o-rings or appliance components.

Includes minimum specific content requirements for retrofit and retirement plans (ID/location, existing type and full charge, type and full charge of new refrigerant, itemized procedure for retrofit, disposition plan for recovered refrigerant, disposition plan for retired appliance, schedule, and signature of authorized company official) and includes requirement that all identified leaks must be repaired as part of retrofit

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed [see 82.152 & 82.157(h)] with minor revisions to definition of retire:

Retire, when referring to an appliance, means the removal of the refrigerant and the disassembly or impairment of the refrigerant circuit such that the appliance as a whole is rendered unusable by any person in the future.

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Available off-ramps from implementing retrofit or retirement plan

Available off-ramps vary by appliance type as follows:

Non-federally owned CRAs/CCAs = None

IPRAs and federally owned CRAs/CCAs = 1) repair within 2nd 30-day (or 120-day) window (i.e., 2nd attempt at repair), and 2) repair within 180 days (i.e., 6 month repair plan)

Eliminates all available off-ramps

Consolidates existing off-ramp provisions into one option for all appliances subject to leak repair provisions, which requires owner/operator to establish within 180 days of plan’s date that the appliance no longer exceeds the applicable allowable leak rate and agree to repair all identified leaks within 1 year of plan’s date [see 82.157(h)(5)(ii)]

Adds language to indicate that off-ramp requests will be considered approved unless EPA notifies the owner/operator within 60 days of receipt of request that it is not approved

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Available extensions for implementing retrofit or retirement plan

Available extensions vary by appliance type as follows:

Non-federally owned CRAs/CCAs = None

Federally owned CRAs/CCAs = 1) federal procurement process complications result in delivery time of > 30 weeks, and 2) appliance is located in area subject to radiological contamination and creating safe working environment will require > 30 weeks

IPRAs = 1) delay caused by other regulations, 2) delay due to unavailability of suitable replacement refrigerant, and 3) critical component for custom built unit has delivery time > 30 weeks from order

Modifies available extensions by appliance type as follows:

All appliances = automatically allowed 18 months to retire an appliance if replacement uses exempt substitute

Federally owned equipment = 1) federal procurement process complications result in delivery time of > 30 weeks, and 2) appliance is located in area subject to radiological contamination and creating safe working environment will require > 30 weeks

IPRAs = 1) delay caused by other regulations, and 2) component for custom built appliance or custom built appliance has delivery time > 30 weeks from order (adds provision to require installation of said component/appliance within 120 days after delivery)

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed [see 82.157(i)]

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Leak Provisions (applies to appliances with full charge ≥ 50 lbs) - Recordkeeping and Reporting

Leak repair recordkeeping

Existing rule recordkeeping provisions include:

  • Servicing records (date and type of service, amount of refrigerant added, and date and amount of refrigerant purchased)
  • Full charge recordkeeping if using established range method
  • Verification test records (date, type, and results) for applicable units
  • Purged refrigerant records (when exempting from leak rate calculations)
  • Copies of reports/notifications (i.e., failed follow-up verification test reports, repair window extension requests, and retrofit/retirement plan extension notifications)
  • Copy of retrofit/retirement plans

Only provision that clarifies what records technicians must provide to owners/operators is requirement to provide documentation of amount of refrigerant added [82.166(j)]

Revises recordkeeping provisions to include:

  • Expanded servicing records (ID/location of appliance, date of service, parts of appliance serviced and type of service made to each part, name of person performing the service, amount and type of refrigerant added to or removed, full charge, leak rate, leak rate method used)
  • Expanded full charge records (full charge, method used, revisions, and date of revisions) for all full charge methods
  • Expanded verification test records (location of repairs tested, date, type, and results)
  • Adds explicit records for mothballing (date and return to service)
  • Purged refrigerant records (when exempting from leak rate calculations)
  • Adds explicit records for seasonal variance (dates of removal and corresponding addition)
  • Adds records of leak inspections (date, method used, leak locations, and certification that all visible parts inspected)
  • Adds records for automatic leak detection systems (installation, annual audit and calibration, and date/location of leaks detected)
  • Copies of reports and requests submitted to EPA
  • Copies of retrofit/retirement plans

Clarifies that technicians must provide owners/operators service documentation necessary for owners/operators to comply with recordkeeping provisions at conclusion of each service

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed with minor revisions [see 82.157(l)]

Further clarifies exact service records that technicians must provide owners/operators such that owners/operators can comply with recordkeeping provisions. Includes service documentation, inspection documentation, and verification test documentation, but excludes full charge, leak rate, and leak rate method

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Leak repair reporting

Non-federally owned CRAs and CCAs = purged refrigerant reports (when exempting from leak rate calculations)

IPRAs and federally owned CRAs/CCAs = failed follow-up verification test reports, leak repair window extension requests, retrofit/retirement plan off-ramp reports, retrofit/retirement plan extension requests, and purged refrigerant reports (when exempting from leak rate calculations)

All reports must be submitted via hardcopy to applicable EPA regional office

Expands reporting provisions to all appliances subject to leak repair provisions

Required reports include:

  • Repair window extension requests
  • Retrofit/retirement plan extension requests
  • Alternative inspection schedule requests
  • Purged refrigerant reports (when exempting from leak rate calculations)

All reports submitted electronically to 608reports@epa.gov (unless contain CBI)

Compliance date = 18 months

Same as proposed rule except for changes to required reports to correspond with changes to other rule provisions [see 82.157(m)]

Required reports include:

  • Repair window extension requests
  • Retrofit/retirement plan off-ramp requests
  • Retrofit/retirement plan extension requests
  • Reports for appliances that leak ≥ 125% of full charge in calendar year
  • Purged refrigerant reports (when exempting from leak rate calculations)

Compliance date = 1/1/2019
(2 years)

Other Provisions

Appliances with multiple independent circuits

Not addressed in rule; 10/1995 guidance (Compliance Guidance for Industrial Process Refrigeration Leak Repair Regulations Under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act) for IPRAs indicated that each individual circuit is considered a separate appliance

N/A

Amends definition of appliance to clarify that for systems containing multiple circuits, each independent circuit is considered a separate appliance (see 82.152)

Compliance date = 1/1/2017 (effective date)

Definition of disposal

Current rule definition of disposal includes: 1) disposing appliance to land/water, 2) disassembly of appliance to dispose of discarded components to land/water, and 3) disassembly of appliance for reuse of its component parts (see 82.152)

Amends definition to include a fourth provision addressing destruction of appliance such that refrigerant would be released into environment if it had not been recovered prior to the destructive activity; language change targets vandalism or the cutting of refrigerant lines, both to steal metal and to vent refrigerant

Compliance date = effective date

Same as proposed except for minor revisions to definition (see 82.152)

Disposal means the process leading to and including:
(1) The discharge, deposit, dumping, or placing of any discarded appliance into or on any land or water;
(2) The disassembly of any appliance for discharge, deposit, dumping, or placing of its discarded component parts into or on any land or water;
(3) The vandalism of any appliance such that the refrigerant is released into the environment or would be released into the environment if it had not been recovered prior to the destructive activity;
(4) The disassembly of any appliance for reuse of its component parts; or
(5) The recycling of any appliance for scrap

Compliance date = 1/1/2017
(effective date)

Disposal requirements for small appliances, MVACs, and MVAC-like appliances

Final disposers must: 1) recover any remaining refrigerant from such appliances or 2) verify that any remaining refrigerant has been evacuated from such appliances prior to receipt (verifications can be signed statements or contract terms) [see 82.156(f) & 82.166(i)]

Relocates requirements to 82.155(a)-(c)

Compliance date for ODS-containing refrigerants – effective date

Compliance date for non-exempt substitutes = 1 year

Minor edits to regulatory language including addition of requirement to obtain a signed statement in the event that all refrigerant in an appliance has “leaked out” prior to delivery due to unavoidable occurrences [see 82.155(b)(2)(iii)]

Compliance date for ODS-containing refrigerants – effective date

Compliance date for non-exempt substitutes = 1/1/2018 (1 year)

Recordkeeping provisions for disposal of appliances with full charge > 5 lbs and < 50 lbs

None

Requires records of:

  • Company name
  • Location of the equipment
  • Date of recovery
  • Amount and type of refrigerant recovered for each appliance
  • The quantity and type of refrigerant transferred for reclamation and/or destruction
  • To whom it was transferred
  • The date of transfer

Compliance date = 1 year

Requires records of [see 82.156(a)(3)]:

  • Company name
  • Location of the appliance
  • Date of recovery
  • Type of refrigerant recovered for each appliance
  • The quantity of refrigerant, by type, recovered from all disposed appliances in each calendar month
  • The quantity of refrigerant, by type, transferred for reclamation and/or destruction
  • The person to whom it was transferred
  • The date of transfer

Compliance date = 1/1/2018
(1 year)

Evacuation levels for certifying recovery/recycling equipment

Tables 2 and 3 of 82.158 contain required evacuation levels for certifying recovery/recycling equipment that depend on manufacture date of recovery/recycling equipment and type of appliance; types of appliances listed in these 2 tables not entirely consistent with required evacuation levels that technicians must achieve in field as contained in Table 1 within 82.156

Consolidates Tables 2 and 3 into a single Table 2 within 82.158; for improved consistency with Table 1 in 82.156, adds two appliance type categories not included in original tables (i.e., medium-pressure appliances < 200 lbs full charge and medium-pressure appliances ≥ 200 lbs full charge) and assigns same evacuation levels as “other high-pressure appliances”

Note that required evacuation levels for certifying some “other high-pressure appliances” more stringent than required evacuation levels that technicians must achieve in field for “high-pressure appliances” as contained in Table 1 within 82.156

Compliance date = effective date

Same as proposed

Compliance date = 1/1/2017
(effective date)

Certifying organizations providing list of certified equipment

Existing rule requires list to be provided to EPA within 30 days of organization’s approval by EPA and annually thereafter [see 82.166(c)]

Replaces existing provisions with requirement to publish online a list of certified equipment (name of manufacturer and name and/or serial number of the model line) and update list annually

Compliance date = effective date

Same as proposed [see 82.160(e)(1)]

Adds clarification that online lists must contain certified equipment until 3 years after that equipment is no longer offered for sale

Compliance date = 1/1/2017
(effective date)

One-time notification of acquisition of certified recovery/recycling equipment

Existing rule requires one-time notification that certified recovery/recycling equipment has been acquired (82.162)

Eliminates requirement

Compliance date = effective date

Same as proposed

Compliance date = 1/1/2017
(effective date)

Certifying organizations making list of certified technicians available to the public

None

Requires organizations, excluding federally-run programs, to create and maintain publicly searchable database of technicians they certify after 1/1/2017

Gives technicians ability to opt out of being included in database

Compliance date = 1/1/2018

Requires organizations, excluding federally-run programs, to publish online a list of technicians they certify on or after 1/1/2017 [see 82.161(b)(6)]

Gives technicians ability to opt out of being included in such lists

List must be updated at least annually

Compliance date = 1/1/2018
(1 year)

 

 

 

 

 

Self-sealing valves on small cans of MVAC refrigerant

None

Proposed definition of self-sealing valve

Requires small cans (≤ 2 lbs) of MVAC refrigerant to be equipped with self-sealing valve

Requires all small cans manufactured and placed into initial inventory or imported prior to compliance date must be sold by 2 years from final rule

Compliance date = 1 year

Requires small cans (≤ 2 lbs) of MVAC refrigerant to be equipped with self-sealing valve [see 82.154(c)]

Eliminates requirement to sell older, small cans by 2 years from final rule

Compliance date = 1/1/2018
(1 year)

*Reference to 1 year, 2 years, or 18 months for compliance dates included within proposed rule refer to the amount of time from the date the final rule is published in the FR
IPRA = industrial process refrigeration appliance
CRA = commercial refrigeration appliance
CCA = comfort cooling appliance

If you have any questions about these updates, please reach out to Kirk Lowery at (614) 433-0733 or by email, or your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655.