14 May 2013

Flammable refrigerants

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AREMA supports the urgent introduction of mandatory national controls on the use of flammable refrigerants and is one of ten industry groups representing the Australian airconditioning and refrigeration industry voicing concerns about the need to ensure flammable refrigerants can be used safely.

The introduction of the carbon tax has meant that we will see a progressive increase in the use of these refrigerants, and it is imperative that this occurs in a safe environment.

Existing controls exist at a state level, and are unclear, inconsistent and not enforced. The group presented Government with advertising material from major flammable refrigerant suppliers promoting the use of hydrocarbons (a very flammable and potentially explosive refrigerant) as a drop-in replacement. This is an extremely dangerous practice, as the fatal fire at Tamahere in New Zealand has shown.

The industry believes that the Greenhouse and Energy Management Act could be used to call up the relevant Australian Standard (AS 1677) or for preference the Flammable Refrigerants Code of Practice currently nearing completion, via a Ministerial determination under Section 27 of that Act.

This would have the effect of making safe practices clear, mandatory and nationally consistent.

While this would address concerns surrounding stationary applications, an alternative approach for non-stationary may be necessary.

There is also an urgent need for an industry safety information program.