Leaking coolant from air conditioners depletes ozone

Leaking coolant depletes ozone

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The theft of copper from air conditioners costs homeowners and businesses in the Augusta area thousands of dollars, but there's another price that rarely grabs headlines.



Tearing apart air-conditioning units for copper is a quick and dirty process that typically leaves the unit in shambles and leaking refrigerant. That refrigerant, usually Freon, contains particles that erode the planet's protective ozone layer.

In small quantities, say the 5 to 10 pounds of Freon in a residential unit, the release is mostly harmless, but many copper thieves target units at churches and businesses, where the potential copper haul is much larger.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency strictly controls the use of refrigerants and is slowly phasing out the use of all ozone-depleting substances, including Freon.

One of its tools for controlling the disposal and intentional release of environmentally damaging refrigerants is the Clean Air Act. Usually this affects scrap yards and mechanics, but the U.S. attorney for Northern Georgia recently prosecuted suspected copper thieves under the same provision.

Prosecutors say the suspects stole 35 industrial-size air conditioners from 14 public buildings and, in the process, released hundreds of pounds of Freon into the atmosphere.

Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland told The Athens Banner-Herald that he had requested the federal prosecution to strengthen penalties against copper thieves.

Cleveland said federal prosecution for violating EPA laws ups the penalty to 10 years, versus a few years' probation for stealing copper.

"All I'm trying to say is if the penalty is harsh enough, they'll stop or at least think twice," Cleveland said.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said his investigators have never pursued federal charges against ordinary copper thieves.

The closest match in Richmond County to the damage done in north Georgia occurred in 2008, when two men reportedly caused $2.5 million in damage to air-conditioning units on top of Regency Mall.

Strength said his agency hasn't seen anything since that would justify federal charges.

Information from The Athens Banner-Herald was used in this report.

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datarelease
2
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datarelease 07/19/10 - 08:10 am
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"All I'm trying to say is if

"All I'm trying to say is if the penalty is harsh enough, they'll stop or at least think twice," Cleveland said.

Riiiight. Because criminals actually reflect upon the fact that reality bears consequence. The real solution here is to...

Nevermind, i can't get into any sort of liberative political philosophy with the AC crowd. i'd be wasting my breath.

(but here goes anyways: change the world in such a way that money isn't as addictive as drugs)

pointstoponder
458
Points
pointstoponder 07/19/10 - 08:26 am
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"(but here goes anyways:

"(but here goes anyways: change the world in such a way that money isn't as addictive as drugs)"

Odds are that the theft of copper is related to drugs. As far as an addiction to money, money is simply a convenient means to exchange goods and services. Are you suggesting that everyone should simply be given what they want?

to tell the truth1
185
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to tell the truth1 07/19/10 - 08:39 am
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If businesses, homeowners,

If businesses, homeowners, etc would report serial#'s to the sheriffs dept, and the sheriff dept in turn keep a report of all these serial#'s and distribute them to the recycle centers then the corpit would be caught and pay for all damages and the crime. A products model# is duplicated but each product has its own serial#. Just a suggestion.

datarelease
2
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datarelease 07/19/10 - 09:09 am
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i won't spell it out for ya,

i won't spell it out for ya, point. just putting something down to see if anyone would pick it up. and no one yet. I think your bible says something about it.

Suzy Q
1
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Suzy Q 07/19/10 - 10:08 am
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The only way to stop this is

The only way to stop this is to make stolen copper difficult to sell. Place the burden on the buyers.
If you can't be bothered to verify that the twitching tweaker pushing a shopping cart full of copper wire actually has the right to sell it, you should be fined well past whatever profit you'd make from reselling that wire.

pointstoponder
458
Points
pointstoponder 07/19/10 - 02:05 pm
0
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Strange data, I do recall the

Strange data, I do recall the Bible mentioning helping the less fortunate. I don't recall it advocating sitting on your rear and not making an effort. Nice trolling BTW.

pointstoponder
458
Points
pointstoponder 07/19/10 - 02:07 pm
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to tell, the thieves are not

to tell, the thieves are not (for the most part) taking entire units, just the copper coils, which rarely have identifying marks.

FedupwithAUG
0
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FedupwithAUG 07/19/10 - 10:08 pm
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"Strength said his agency

"Strength said his agency hasn't seen anything since that would justify federal charges" Time to get him out of his position. When somone comes in and steals his aircon unit I bet there are federal charges.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/20/10 - 05:25 am
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Datarelease. Is that bible

Datarelease. Is that bible you referenced the same one that talks about needle eyes and camels?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/20/10 - 05:32 am
0
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Come on folks, we are in the

Come on folks, we are in the 21st Century. Why not make all these outlets (recyclers, pawn shops and resellers) have a 100 dollar video camera and take a picture of the seller? What would it cost to store a million pictures, probably less than a couple of dollars. Or make it the law that sellers need to leave a fingerprint on the receipt document. I do agree that we need a real change in law enforcement and hopefully it is someone NOT endorsed by the "stakeholders".

fontana
0
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fontana 07/20/10 - 11:58 am
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If you don't audit the big

If you don't audit the big purchasers vigorously, you'll never curtail the problem.

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