American Seafoods Co. LLC and Pacific Longline Co. LLC have agreed to phase out the use of ozone depleting refrigerants, implement a comprehensive leak detection and repair program aboard a number of their vessels, and pay a penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations.

The settlement, outlined in a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, concerns the improper release and illegal import of ozone depleting refrigerants. The consent decree was lodged at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.

Between 2006 and 2009, American Seafoods and Pacific Longline used R-22 as a refrigerant in industrial refrigeration units aboard seafood catcher-processor vessels. American Seafoods illegally imported 70,000 kilograms of R-22 refrigerant to the United States without holding valid allowances. The United States limits the amount of R-22 that companies are permitted to import through the use of set allowances.

The consent decree also resolves violations relating to their use of ozone-depleting substances:

• Failure to repair refrigerant  leaks in a timely manner.

• Failure to verify adequacy of repairs to refrigeration system.

• Inadequate records of repair service on refrigerant system.

• Use of uncertified employees to perform refrigerant-related work.

In addition to a $700,000 penalty, the Seattle-based companies will spend an estimated $9 million to $15 million to convert refrigeration systems on several vessels to operate using non-ozone depleting refrigerants. The companies also have purchased and retired R-22 allowances to offset the harm caused by their illegal importation.