Atlanta, Ga. – Oct. 9, 2008 : The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Wal-Mart to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which prohibits the sale or distribution in interstate commerce of non-essential products containing substances commonly known as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). According to the terms of the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay a total civil penalty of $199,000. Wal-Mart has taken action to investigate the causes of the violation, to come into compliance, and to ensure that the violation does not recur.
An EPA investigation of a variety of party string products being sold in the United States by various retailers revealed that some of these aerosol products and pressurized dispensers contained ODS as part of their propellant. In November 2005 and January 2006, EPA investigators purchased cans of the party string product “Glow-in-the-Dark Looney String” from a Wal-Mart store, and had the contents analyzed by an EPA laboratory. Analytical results showed that the products contained R22, a banned ODS, as part of the propellant.
EPA’s Region 4 Air Enforcement Division was assigned to further investigate Wal-Mart’s purchase and sale of party string products that may have contained banned ODS. On January 30, 2007, EPA requested information and documentation related to the sale and distribution of any party string products that contained ODS from all Wal-Mart stores in the United States. In its response, Wal-Mart indicated that between approximately August 5, 2005, and January 6, 2007, it purchased approximately 474,874 cans of Halloween Glow String, including cans of “Glow-in-the-Dark Looney String” from a supplier in Taiwan and sold the cans at various stores in the United States. Wal-Mart’s distribution and sale of the party string product containing a banned ODS, was a violation of the CAA.
Certain types of refrigerants, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), contain ozone depleting substances that destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere called the stratosphere. In addition, CFCs are potent greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.