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Refrigerant Release Reporting – Fast Facts

Refrigerant Release Reporting

1.  Who Is This Guidance For?

This guidance is for any Unit that may have knowledge of a release of refrigerants that could require reporting to environmental regulatory agencies or may trigger record-keeping and timely repair obligations under Federal regulations. It is intended as a brief review of the expected processes to be followed and resources available to aid in reporting releases. This is only a summary, additional detailed guidance is available elsewhere (see Section 4).

2.  Why Should You Care?

Any employee who is aware of a release of refrigerants is expected to notify appropriate parties to:

  • Trigger emergency response if necessary to minimize impacts to the safety of employees and the public.
  • Assure regulatory agencies are notified if required.
  • Assure the University is able to obtain and maintain the appropriate records as required by various regulations and permits.

 3.  What Are the Basics You Need to Know?

  1. In an EMERGENCY – CALL 911 !
    • This may seem like a statement of the obvious, but it is worth reiterating. If there is imminent danger to you, other staff, students or the public, please do not hesitate to call in emergency services.
    • On-Campus (Ithaca campus) calls to 911 will initiate a response by the Cornell Police Dispatch, which will in turn initiate a response by the appropriate emergency service teams (police, fire), including Environment, Health and Safety’s Emergency Services.
  2. Non-Emergency Reporting of Releases
    • Releases that do not pose a threat to employee or public health are expected to be reported through the normal management structure established for each Unit. That may mean that you are asked to report releases to your Supervisor or Foreman who in turn takes the responsibility to assure that the release is reported on behalf of the University.
    • In most cases, it is preferred that notifications made to outside agencies are done through Environment, Health and Safety.
    • Please be sure to:
      • Report releases per your Units procedures as soon as you are aware of them. Some regulations require “immediate” reporting to the regulatory agency, so you cannot wait until the end of your shift or the next time you see your supervisor to make a report.
      • Be prepared to provide the following information:
        • Who discovered the release.
        • What was released (be as specific as possible, telling us you found a ‘freon’ release doesn’t help very much….. telling us that you found a “R-22 leak” (or whatever the particular refrigerant involved is) is the type of detail we need).
        • How much was released (typically best estimate at the time).
        • When was it found.
        • Where is it (building, the piece of equipment and what it serves if possible).
        • What is being done to mitigate the release at this point.
      • Don’t be surprised if we call back for more information. We will call back if we need additional information. Frequently we are just trying to understand the situation better, please be patient. In addition we do track the incidents to closure so we can update University records.

4.  What Other Resources are Available?

The following written resources are available on the EHS Website on the Ozone Protection page.

  • Refrigerant Release Reporting Guidance: This is a guidance document outlining expectations for release reporting, reporting requirements under various State and Federal programs, phone numbers for reporting and a summary of many of the refrigerants on campus and their reporting thresholds.
  • Refrigerant Release Thresholds Wallet Card: This wallet card is intended as a quick convenient reference for staff who frequently work with refrigerants. It contains the summary of refrigerants and their reporting thresholds.

In addition, you can always call EHS for assistance at 607-255-8200.