EPA has rescinded the portions of 40 CFR 82, Subpart F that extended leak repair provisions to appliances using substitute refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) including R-134a and R-410a. These requirements will remain in effect until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register (FR). As the final rule was just published in the FR on March 11, the leak repair provisions for substitute refrigerants will remain in effect until April 10, 2020.
This regulatory action means that appliances containing at least 50 pounds of substitute refrigerant in a single circuit are no longer required to comply with the provisions of 40 CFR 82.157. Specifically, these appliances will no longer be subject to the following requirements after April 10, 2020:
- Calculate the annualized leak rate each time refrigerant is added
- If the leak rate calculation exceeds the applicable threshold (i.e., 10%/year for comfort cooling/other appliances; 20%/year for commercial refrigeration; and 30%/year industrial process refrigeration), repair the appliance and conduct required verification tests on those repairs by the regulatory deadlines
- If the leak rate threshold is exceeded, complete periodic inspections to confirm that the appliance is not leaking
- If at least 125% of the appliance's capacity leaks in a calendar year, file a report for the chronically leaking appliance with EPA
- Retrofit or retire appliances that are not repaired
- Maintain records to document compliance with these requirements
These provisions remain applicable to appliances containing at least 50 pounds of a traditional Class I or Class II refrigerant (e.g., CFCs and HCFCs). However, for substitute refrigerants (e.g., HFCs), these requirements only apply from January 1, 2019 through April 10, 2020.
Other portions of the 2016 rule applicable to substitute refrigerants are still in effect including sales restrictions, technician certification, disposal requirements, evacuation requirements, reclamation standards, and requirements to use certified recovery equipment. As always, the venting prohibition is still in effect for all refrigerant types. This prohibition states that a person may not knowingly vent or otherwise release refrigerants to the atmosphere.
If you have any questions about this updated rule, please email Kirk Lowery or your local office.