UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

EPA fines UC Berkeley for lax oversight of refrigerants

– The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Feb. 23 that it has fined the University of California, Berkeley, $64,944 for inadequate record keeping and appliance servicing in regard to refrigerants. Refrigerants must be handled according to strict federal regulations to limit their release into the atmosphere, where they are known to degrade the Earth's protective ozone layer.

Despite the fine for record keeping deficiencies, UC Berkeley's facilities maintenance department has always had certified technicians who have followed proper equipment repair procedures, said Greg Haet, associate director for environmental protection of UC Berkeley's Office of Environment, Health & Safety.

On Oct. 31, 2002, EPA officials arrived at the University to find incomplete servicing records for some refrigeration equipment. The campus lacked some records going back three years, which is required by the EPA.

The penalty was assessed for inadequate servicing and record keeping for one chiller which appeared to have been leaking excessive amounts of refrigerant.

"We believe our technicians repaired the chiller using proper refrigerant management procedures," said Bob Krambuhl, production controller for UC Berkeley Physical Plant-Campus Services. "Unfortunately, records are unclear on the details of the physical repair. Additionally, the managers overseeing our refrigeration servicing at that time are no longer with the university."

UC Berkeley acknowledges the lapse in record keeping and will pay the fine. The campus instituted procedures within a year of the incident that brought it into full compliance with Title VI of the Clean Air Act.

"The campus should have had records, but didn't," Haet said. "However, we have fixed the problem. We now have new refrigerant management software and an organized system for keeping these records."

This is UC Berkeley's only Title VI air quality violation to date, he said. The campus often is inspected by the local Bay Area Air Quality Management District for compliance with locally administered air quality regulations.