In what is now the third settlement federal authorities have reached, with a national supermarket chain (Safeway and Costco were the first two), Trader Joe’s- the uber cool, California-based supermarket chain- agreed in court to spend around $2 million to reduce refrigerator coolant leaks and also agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty under a consent decree with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Prosecutors alleged that Trader Joe’s violated the Clean Air Act by failing to repair leaks of R-22, a hydrofluorocarbon and coolant. This was only discovered after the EPA found that Trader Joe’s was buying more refrigerant than it should have needed. Officials believe that stopping the leaks will eliminate as much greenhouse gas as about 6,500 cars produce each year. In addition to stopping the leaks, Trader Joe’s will upgrade its equipment and switch to less-harmful coolants.

From the LA Times article:

“John Cruden, the government’s top environmental lawyer, said in an interview that the consent decree sends a message to other large supermarkets to inspect their refrigeration equipment and reduce coolant emissions.

“This settlement will assist our efforts to control these two major environmental problems,” Cruden said, referring to protecting the ozone layer and stemming the growth of greenhouse gases.”

The company was also accused of not keeping better service records and will need to improve moving forward, in all their stores across the US.


Alison Mochizuki, spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, expressed that they are looking forward to working with the EPA, “in its mission to reduce air pollution and protect the ozone layer, and, with this agreement, has committed to reducing its emissions to a rate that matches the best of the industry.”

Source: LA Times