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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Solomon Islands government ban importation of gases containing ozone depleting substances.

The Government through the Department of Mines and Energy now bans the importation gases containing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs). ODSs are contained mostly in refrigerator and air condition gases.

Department of Mines and Energy representative Kenneth Bulehite said this ban had been gazetted under the Prohibition and Restriction Act and came into effect on June 29. Mr Bulehite said this action is in line with the Montreal Protocol, which Solomon Islands ratified in 1997.

The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.

Mr Bulehite said the prohibited refrigerants are Refrigerant 11, Refrigerant 12, Refrigerant 502, Refrigerant 22, Refrigerant 141b, and Refrigerant 142b.
Fire fighting gases such as Halon 1211, Halon 1301 and servicing gases such as carbon Tetrachloride and Methyl Chloroform are also prohibited.

In Solomon Islands Mr Bulehite said the most popular refrigerant is the Refrigerant 22. “This is mostly used in industrial and household refrigerators, freezes and air conditioners,” the officer said.

He said those who are still using the above named gases would have to swing to alternative non-green house gases because soon they will not be in store. There is only one alternative refrigerant gas that is allowed in the country and that is Refrigerant 134A(R134a).

However, Mr Bulehite said license gas agents could still apply for license to import certain restricted gases. “These are gases such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, methyl bromide and any other ozone depleting substances and products using ozone depleting substances whether pure or in mixture form.

“Those who import these restricted gases can only do on a strict rules imposed by the Government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy,” Mr Bulehite said.
He said he hoped all license gas importers in the country are aware of these changes.
A company specialises in refrigerators, Centatherm, said they are aware of the ban and have already prepared for the adjustment.

Managing director Alf Scholz said they would put up the price of ODS gases such as R22 to force customers choose the cheaper alternative gases. “I also hope many people will adjust to the change as a lot of households and industries are using R22. It will be costly especially to industrial houses,” Mr Scholz said.

However, Scholz suggested the government find a supplier and restrict or prohibit the supply and not the demand. “That would be easy for importers to adjust to the situation.

However, Mr Bulehite said the government would first need to train Customs officers to identify gases that are not allowed into the country. The training will be conducted next month.

Mr Bulehite said after this training those found to continue importing these restricted gases would face the courts.

Source: Solomon Star

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