May 1996 Volume 2 Issue 8
The chlorine-based refrigerants we have been using for years — CFC refrigerants carrying brand names such as Freon® — deplete stratospheric ozone levels when they are released into the atmosphere. With less ozone, more of the sun’s harmful UV-B rays reach the earth, causing damage to both plant and animal life. Because of this, chemical companies have stopped making CFCs, and governments strictly regulate the handling of those CFCs that are still around. In this issue of Smart Energy Userwe call your attention to certain features of the P.E.I. regulations governing the use of CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants. (Ammonia refrigeration systems are covered by other regulations.)
SOME COMMON REFRIGERANTS
REFRIGERANT RELEASES PROHIBITED
The release of refrigerants from either a refrigeration system or a container is prohibited. This means that you cannot just open a refrigerant line, make repairs, reconnect the line and recharge the system with refrigerant. The refrigerant must first be removed from the refrigerant loop and stored in an approved container. Only then is it permissible to open the loop to the atmosphere.
THOSE WHO DO REFRIGERATION SERVICE MUST BE TRAINED AND REGISTERED
Everyone who installs, services, or “works on” a refrigeration or air conditioning system (or component of a system) containing a CFC, HCFC, or HFC refrigerant must now be a registered handler, or a trained apprentice working under the supervision of a registered handler. This includes any employee of your company who does this work, as well as any outside person you hire to do it. Registration is handled by the P.E.I. Department of Environmental Resources, and is granted upon proof that the person has successfully completed the CFC/HCFC/HFC Control in the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry short course given by Holland College, and has paid the annual $25 registration fee. A trained apprentice is someone who has successfully completed the training but is not registered.
REQUIREMENTS FOR OWNERS AND EMPLOYERS
The regulations place important obligations on the owners of refrigeration systems and those who
employ people to work on these systems.
Employees must be registered handlers.
The employer must ensure that all employees who work on refrigeration or air conditioning equipment are registered handlers and that these employees work in accordance with the regulations.
Proper refrigeration system maintenance required.
The owner of a refrigeration system has the obligation to see that it is properly maintained and that, at the end of its useful life, it is properly disposed of in accordance with the regulations.
Open compressor systems may need to have refrigerant removed if out of service for more than 120 days.
Of concern to some seasonal food processing plants is the requirement that the refrigerant be removed from any system “which is scheduled to be out of service for a period greater than 120 consecutive days” if the refrigerant “can not be isolated and contained in the system.” In other words, either there must be a container within the system to which the refrigerant can be isolated for the duration of the shutdown, or the refrigerant must be removed from the system and stored in an approved container.
Must verify once a year that system is maintaining its charge.
The owner of any refrigeration system having a compressor motor of 3 horsepower or more, or involving the interconnection of pipes, tubes, hoses, valves, etc., must be able to verify on an annual basis that the system is maintaining its charge.
NO TOPPING UP WITHOUT LEAK TESTING
In the past, if a system had a slow refrigerant leak it was common practice (though poor policy) to top up the refrigerant and not bother to find the leak. That practice is no longer permitted. Now, before adding refrigerant, the system must be leak tested and refrigerant added only if the equipment is shown not to leak.
If the leak test reveals that there is a leak, it must be repaired immediately. If that can’t be done, the refrigerant must be removed from the system immediately. An exception is made for food packing, processing, and storage facilities where refrigerant can be added to a leaking system if failing to do so would put the refrigerated food at risk.
SERVICE RECORDS AND NOTIFICATION REQUIRED
The regulations require that a formal Record of Service form be filled out whenever a closed refrigerant loop is opened during servicing. The Record is then posted near the equipment for the benefit of those who work on the equipment at some later time. In addition, you need to notify the Department of Environmental Resources if there is an accidental or emergency release of refrigerant into the atmosphere, and of actions that were taken with regard to leaking systems.
DISPOSAL OF EQUIPMENT CONTROLLED
Commercial and industrial refrigeration equipment is not to be disposed of until the refrigerant has been recovered for reuse, recycling, or reclamation and a special label has been applied to the unit.
LICENSE REQUIRED TO PURCHASE CFCs
Any individual or company who wants to sell or supply refrigerants for charging refrigeration systems at the retail or contractor level must now have a license to purchase those refrigerants.
EQUIPMENT LABELS REQUIRED
Refrigeration equipment containing a CFC, HCFC, or HFC refrigerant must have a label affixed to it that identifies the type of refrigerant used and the maximum quantity of refrigerant that it could contain.
For full details, get a copy of the regulations: No. EC619/94, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT: OZONE DEPLETING SUBSTANCES AND REPLACEMENT REGULATIONS. Copies are $1.00 each from Island Information Services, Jones Building, Charlottetown. Phone 368-4000. Your questions about the regulations can be addressed to Debbie Johnston of the Department of Environmental Resources. Phone 368-5059.