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Southeast Metals reaches deal with EPA

Keywords: Tags  scrap metal, Southeast Metals, EPA, Lisa Gordon

PITTSBURGH — A Cleveland recycler has reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle a Clean Air Act complaint about the recovery of fluorocarbons.

Under the terms of the agreement, Southeast Metals Inc.—which denies all violations alleged in the original complaint—will pay a $15,000 civil penalty and submit documentation of its activities twice annually for five years, according to a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio.

The matter ended up in court because a previous attorney representing the company failed to meet deadlines for documentation, according to Judge Lesley Wells, who noted that the company had acted in good faith.

As part of the settlement, Southeast Metals will accept only motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) and MVAC-like appliances with cut refrigerant lines unless the supplier can provide documentation that fluids were properly drained.

In addition, Southeast Metals will inform its customer base that it will provide refrigerant recovery services at no additional charge and the service will not be deducted from the value of the scrap metal.

The recycler has the option of recovering the fluids or subcontracting the task to a third party. It will keep a log with details on the refrigerant recovery for each item it receives and will forward the information twice a year to the EPA.

Southeast Metals had never improperly disposed refrigerants and had a third party perform this work, according to its legal counsel, who described the amount of Freon extracted as "minimal."

Allegations in the original complaint that the recycler failed to cooperate and provide information to the regulatory agency were untrue, the attorney added.

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