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Protecting Ozone Layer; St. Lucia Plays Its Part

OZONE Depleting Substances (ODSs) are chemical substances, usually consisting of some combination of chlorine, fluorine, or bromine plus carbon, and have been shown to destroy the ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere. They are widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, as solvents in dry cleaning, and as agricultural fumigants.

The ozone layer is a protective layer in the earth’s atmosphere made up of a high amount of ozone molecules. The ozone layer provides important protection from the sun’s rays because ozone molecules are good at absorbing certain Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun that can cause serious impacts on

• Animal life; causing fertility problems which leads less viable offspring
• Plant Life; hindering proper growth and development and
• Human life; causing sunburn, cataract and skin cancer.

This vital protective shield is being worn out by the release of ODS in the atmosphere. We can stop the depletion of the ozone layer by assisting in the reduction of ODS emissions into the atmosphere. These ODS include substances like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs), halons and methyl bromide.

Countries around the world have agreed to work together to prevent further deterioration and to restore the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer is an international agreement established in 1987 with the goal of gradually phasing out the production and consumption of ODSs. A total of 197 countries, including Saint Lucia, have committed themselves to achieving the objectives of this Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol specifies ODSs for control and controls their production and trade using a three-pronged approach. It establishes phase out dates for production and consumption, makes provisions for controlling trade with non-parties to the protocol and for the regular assessment and review of control measures. The National Ozone Unit (NOU) within the Department of Sustainable Development of the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol, Substances that deplete the ozone layer Act (No. 10 of 2011) and its regulations, provides the legal framework for effecting Saint Lucia’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol. The legislation establishes a Quota and Licensing System to control the import and export of ODSs, ODS based equipment and provides restrictions on the sale of refrigerants to certified technicians. This system of trade control within our borders has facilitated the successful phase out of the use of some of the ODSs of concern. CFCs were phased out in Saint Lucia in 2008, two years ahead of the global schedule. Halons and methyl bromide were phased out in Saint Lucia by January 1, 2015.

Currently, the NOU is focussed on phasing out the use of HCFCs and HCFC-based equipment in Saint Lucia by 2030. The phasing out process is guided by Saint Lucia’s HCFCs Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP). As of January 2015, Saint Lucia has already achieved the required ten percent reduction target for HCFC consumption, in keeping with the Montreal Protocol Phase-out schedule.

The provision of training to Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) technicians, customs officials, customs brokers and importers/retailers of ODS and ODS-based equipment has been, and continues to be, critical to the successful and timely phase-out of ODS in Saint Lucia. The Good Refrigeration Practices in Recovery, Recycling and Retrofitting and Alternative Technologies training programme offers training to RAC technicians in ozone friendly practices and promotes good health and safety practices when using refrigerants. The adoption of ozone friendly practices supports the reduction of ODS emissions. Customs officers and other law enforcement personnel are trained in the application of the HCFC Licensing and Quota System and on the identification and classification of refrigerants and their products. This training for border control officials ensures effective monitoring and detection of illegal trade of ODS in Saint Lucia. Also,

The Import Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs assists by issuing licenses to registered importers based on the annual quotas assigned by the NOU. This ensures that Saint Lucia does not exceed the allocated amount of HCFCs which can be imported for the year, thus enabling us to remain compliant to the Montreal Protocol.

Since the start of implementation of the HPMP in 2013, fifty eight technicians have been trained in Good Refrigeration Practices Training; fifty customs officers and twenty one customs brokers have trained in the prevention of illegal trade cases. The NOU, as part of its institutional strengthening efforts will continue to provide training for technicians and customs officials on an annual basis.

Join in protecting our vital ozone layer!

For more information on how you can play your part in protecting the ozone layer, please refer to the St. Lucia National Ozone Unit Website: http://www.estis.net/sites/nou-lc/; Or Contact: the National Ozone Unit at the Department of Sustainable Development at 451 8746.

This article is issued by the National Ozone Unit in commemoration of The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, September 16, 2016.

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