FG begins phase-out of harmful refrigerants, ozone depleting substances

The Federal Government has commenced the phasing out of ozone-depleting chemicals and dangerous refrigerants imported into the country.

The government says the removal of the substances is part of its compliance with the Montreal Protocol on reducing Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, HCFCs, a substance mostly used in the air conditioning and refrigeration sectors as well as a blowing agent in the foam manufacturing sector.

The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, who disclosed the government’s move, said the implementation will phase out at least 51.35% of dangerous refrigerants consumed in the country by 2023.

Dr Abubakar says the implementation of the phase-out became expedient following the series of fatal explosions in Ogun State recently as a result of adulterated refrigerants.

He attributed the explosions to the alleged use of adulterated refrigerants for servicing and repair of air conditioning equipment.

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He said, “It is important that we are commencing this process at a time when safety is paramount in the use of Natural Refrigerants due to their flammability, toxicity and high pressures.”

With support from the Montreal Protocol’s multilateral fund, Nigeria is expected to ensure that relevant companies convert to the use of non-Ozone depleting technologies in their operations; training and production capacity.

Nigeria is particularly implementing Stage 11 of the complete phase-out, with emphasis on training technicians on the safe use of alternatives as well as developing policies to ban the importation of harmful substances into the country.

‘‘At stage 1, a Pilot Hydrocarbon Plant, for the production of high-grade Hydrocarbon Refrigerants was established to be used as an alternative to non Ozone Depleting refrigerants in the refrigeration and air conditioning servicing sector,” said the minister.

“The plant which is one of two in Africa, the other being in South Africa will provide availability of Ozone-friendly and Low Global warming potential blowing agents in the production of rigid foam, generate foreign exchange for the country from the export of Methyl formate and save foreign on local production.”

The minister explained that the phase-out process will be executed by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Italian Government, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Federal Ministry of Education, the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Refrigerators and Air-conditioning Practitioners (NARAP) and Refrigeration Training Centers.

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