Safeway pays fine to settle pollution charges

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“This first-of-its-kind settlement will benefit all Americans by cutting emissions of ozone-depleting substances across Safeway’s national supermarket chain,” said Robert Dreher, the acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s environment division, in a statement. “It can serve as a model for comprehensive solutions that improve industry compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act.”

The EPA charged that the California-based business violated the Clean Air Act by failing to fix leaks of a greenhouse gas that is used in refrigerators and keep records about the equipment.

As part of the settlement, Safeway has pledged to reduced its rate of leaks from 25 percent to 18 percent or below by 2015. Additionally, its stores with the highest emissions will reduce discharges by 10 percent per year for the next three. Those measures will prevent 100,000 pounds of future refrigerants from being released into the atmosphere, the EPA estimated.

“Safeway’s new corporate commitment to reduce air pollution and help protect the ozone layer is vital and significant,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s enforcement office, added in a statement.

“Fixing leaks, improving compliance and reducing emissions will make a real difference in protecting us from the dangers of ozone depletion, while reducing the impact on climate change,” she said.