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Phasing out chemicals harmful to the ozone

Barbados may need in the near future to make a decision on whether it will ban all equipment that utilising gases which contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Project Manager with the National Ozone Unit, Rickardo Ward, made this suggestion this morning as the Ministry of the Environment hosted a briefing ahead of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

Ward explained that in keeping with the Montreal Protocol and the island’s own commitments, there was to be a phasing out period by which those chemicals considered harmful to the ozone would no longer be used. He said one of the greatest challenges has been in the areas of refrigeration and air conditioning and they were taking steps to examine the setting up of a quota system on the amount of those identified gases, the main one now being HCFC, that would be allowed to enter the country.

He said they were also working on certification in association with the proposed quota system, to ensure that the agencies carrying out this authorisation had all the necessary information and training necessary.

“You would expect that as a new technology is being introduced, that it is likely to cost more until it sufficiently penetrates the market. So if we are trying to make the shift from trading in this particular type of technology, there might be consideration of how do we offset the cost. That is a policy decision that the Cabinet would have to deal with,” he noted.

His department, he added, would investigate and make recommendations on how this could be done.

Additionally, Ward suggested: “If we are trying to ensure that we don’t continue to significantly accumulate HCFC equipment over time, we might have to identify a specific period in the near future where we should ban the importation of technologies using that type of gas…”

This means, he explained, ensuring that those entities responsible for servicing such equipment only had the gases allowed for the carrying out of their duties, with no accumulating the undesired gases.

“So as a consumer, if I buy a refrigerator today that is using HCFC gas and the domestic quota is two pound for the whole island; my refrigerator goes bad in the middle of next year and I go to the market to get it serviced, it is either going to be unserviceable or if it is serviceable and we get a technician to service it, it is likely that the gas is either going to be expensive or we might have to incur the cost of something called a retrofit — completely replacing that gas with a new gas if such is available to still derive the utility of the refrigeration for a relatively new refrigerator. So it is all of those things that we have to guard against.”

The responsibility, he said, would eventually come down to the ministry and the major distributors, for a smooth transition to a period with no ozone depleting gases or equipment requiring such. (LB)

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