State penalizes Home Depot $1.6 million for selling restricted hydrofluorocarbon products 

The Washington Department of Ecology on Thursday said it issued a $1.6 million penalty to The Home Depot for selling prohibited hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) products, after roughly two years of attempts to bring the company into compliance.

According to an ecology department news release announcing the penalty, HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases used mainly for refrigeration and air conditioning, and they can leak into the atmosphere if equipment is faulty or damaged. When that happens, HFCs have hundreds to thousands of times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.  

The Washington State Legislature passed laws in 2019 and 2021 gradually phasing out the use of HFCs, and the ecology department has been working with manufacturers and retailers to help them comply with the law. One of the restrictions banned the sale of R-134a canisters at retail stores beginning in July 2021. R-134a is an HFC refrigerant used in automotive air conditioning systems with a global warming potential 1,430 times that of carbon dioxide.  

After Washington’s HFC regulations took effect, the ecology department began notifying and educating businesses about how to comply in November 2021. In response, most businesses voluntarily updated their websites and sales practices. The Home Depot continued to both offer and sell R-134a canisters to Washington customers on its website. Ecology staff made numerous attempts between 2021 and 2023 to help the company come into compliance. 

In addition to continued outreach, Ecology hosted technical assistance meetings with The Home Depot’s website software and compliance teams in 2022 and was assured that the identified products would not be available for purchase in Washington and that no new prohibited products would be added to the website. After Ecology again discovered R-134a products being offered for sale on The Home Depot’s website during a routine compliance check in July 2023, Ecology requested information from the company about potential sales. The Home Depot informed Ecology that they sold 1,058 units of the prohibited products in Washington between April 12, 2022, and Sept. 5, 2023. 

Under Washington law, the company could have faced penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. Based on the company’s prompt disclosure of units sold, Ecology reduced the amount to $1,500 per violation, or $1.6 million in total. The company has 30 days to appeal the penalty to Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board. 

  1. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your readers. Ecology really tried to bring them into compliance and Home Depot just didn’t get it. You can lead them to water but … maybe a large fine and bad publicity has gotten their attention.

  2. $1.6 million to Home Depot is about equal to a tick biting into an elephant in terms of real damage inflicted; yet they will probably pay their attorneys thousands of dollars to appeal even that little fine just to make a point. WA. State Ecology is basically a paper tiger in terms of really doing anything meaningful about any sort of pollution. Just look at their record with the Unocal Property and holding the oil companies accountable. It will be Edmond’s citizens accountable in the end for that clean up with the way we are heading.

  3. Clinton is correct it is a large reduction in potential amount it could have been. I see that Amazon sells toner which is also a R -134a product used in copy machines. I looked it up as I really didn’t know why people bought the item at Home Depot. I wonder why WA state didn’t go after Amazon too? Home Depot is in other states also. I am in no way defending Home Depot or the use of this product but there is a lot of difference between 10,000. per violation then 1500. per violation. So, it sort of sounds like a way for WA to say we won we won when in fact they obviously couldn’t get more money and they need money Ha. Crazy whacky world huh. I would imagine that HD will appeal and will win their appeal and once again WA state will be out more $$$ for legal fees. Apparently, our attorneys at the capital need to do much better research. 152 Billion dollars a year in revenue. Here and Canada BTW. I wonder if Canada or any other of the many states where HD is their main go to for building materials also sued or did HD just not comply in WA state??? Just curious as always. Unocal is probably a scary idea!

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