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Meyer's Bakery, EPA Settle Clean Air Act Violations.

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled its claims of Clean Air Act violations against Meyer's Bakery of Hope for a record $3.5 million in fines and penalties.

Meyer's, a commercial bakery, recently moved its headquarters to Hope and shut down its offices in Little Rock.

After a former employee at the company's bakery at Hope tipped the EPA in 1998, the agency found that the company didn't repair leaking coolant equipment on industrial-size mixers.

"The pipings that bring coolant into the system had a number of leaks," said Cynthia Fanning, press officer for the EPA in Dallas. "Rather than repair the leaks, they chose to just keep filling it up with refrigerant.

"It was a common business practice. After receiving the tip, the EPA investigated and found that, [from] the few records the bakery had that documented repair procedures, it was obvious that thousands of pounds of CFCs and HCFCs were allowed to escape. The violations were rampant at their other locations as well," Fanning said.

"This penalty marks the largest civil fine to date under the government's program to control emissions that destroy the earth's ozone layer," said Lois Schiffer, the assistant attorney general for the environment at the Justice Department.

The violations -- which occurred at the company's bakeries in Hope; Arizona City, Ariz.; Orlando, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; and Cleburne, Texas -- released chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) into the atmosphere. Some of the violations turned up by the EPA's investigation date back to 1996, but the Orlando bakery had violations dating back to 1995, Fanning said. CFCs and HCFCs, the EPA statement said, destroy the stratospheric ozone that protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.

Clean Air Act regulations require certain types of industrial facilities to repair leaks from appliances that exceed a 35 percent annual leak rate. The EPA said that Meyer's service logs revealed that leak rates were greater than 58 percent and as high as 22,531 percent.

Chuck Keeter, Meyer's president and CEO, said the EPA "came in and worked on some things and we worked on some things to make sure we are in compliance. We worked very hard to get into compliance--a lot of this had to do with how we were keeping the records."
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Author:O'Reilly, Brendan
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 18, 2000
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