WILMINGTON, Del.-DuPont Co., one of the world's largest manufacturers of the R-12 refrigerant commonly referred to as Freon, will continue to make the substance rather than halt its production one year early, as the company had planned. The Wilmington-based company was to phase out production by the end of this year, but revised its plan at the request of Robert Sussman, the federal Environmental Protection Agency's deputy administrator.
The international deadline for banning all further production and importation of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) contained in R-12 is Jan. 1, 1996.
The EPA requested DuPont take steps to produce and make available its share of 1995 production for use in servicing A/C equipment and for medical applications deemed essential by the U.S. government.
Already across the country, some automotive service shops which perform A/C service have reported shortages of Freon, with some shops stockpiling the refrigerant in anticipation of the end of its production. Although R-12 can be recycled, some areas have reported spot shortages. In response, the EPA has urged the creation of CFC ``banks.''
After meeting with automotive and refrigeration industry officials, the EPA said it was concerned that DuPont's decision to stop production earlier would cost the industry between $5 billion and $20 billion in alternative air conditioning equipment and expensive retrofits of vehicle A/C units to accept R-134a, the replacement for R-12.