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Guidance for managing fluorinated gases and Ozone-depleting substances

The EU has implemented a number of regulations regarding the use and control of Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases and Ozone depleting substances (ODS), with several of these regulations coming into law in 2015. Stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment (RAC systems) used in industrial buildings such as offices, retail stores and schools in the UK will be obliged to comply with these EU regulations.

Fluorinated gas regulation in the UK

Fluorinated (F) gases are used by organisations and buildings that have RAC systems with HFC refrigerants. Any entity that uses these gases must meet the standards set in the GB Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation 2009. Below is a summary of certain criteria contained in the statute.

Leak checks – Systems and equipment must be checked regularly. Large RAC systems are required to install and use automatic leak detection equipment. For more information on detecting a leak, click here.

Recovery – At the end of the refrigerant’s useful life, the refrigerant must be recovered during plant servicing and regular maintenance processes.

Records – UK organisations using stationary HRC systems are required to maintain accurate records for all equipment containing 3 kg of fluorinated gases or more. Records may be required for submitting records during inspections.

Training and certification – The EU guidelines also place emphasis on the use of qualified technicians to maintain HRC equipment and oversee compliance with the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases regulations. Any company employing technicians or general staff charged with working on equipment containing fluorinated gases must be certified - including sole traders. Companies that accept deliveries or handle fluorinated gases must have qualified employees to undertake leak checks, gas recovery, plant installation, maintenance and servicing.

Labelling – All RAC equipment using HFC refrigerants must be labelled in accordance with the applicable statutes.

Ozone regulations & compliance

All entities that use HCFC refrigerants - including R22 - must comply with the Ozone Regulation EC 20377/2000 implemented and amended by the EU on January 1, 2010. A summary of ozone regulations follows:

Phase-out – The initiative calls for the phase-out of HCFC usage between 2010 and 2015.

Leak checks – Equipment containing 3 kg or more of refrigerant must be checked for leakage at least once a year.

Recovery – At the conclusion of the refrigerant’s useful life, refrigerant recovery must be performed during normal plant servicing or maintenance.

Records – Organisations with systems that contain 3 kg or more of HCFC refrigerants must keep accurate records which should be submitted in the course of any regulatory inspection.

Training – All personnel who work on systems or handle the refrigerants that use HFC refrigerants must be trained and qualified.

Compliance responsibilities lie with the owner

According to EU regulations, the owner of these systems is defined as “the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems.” Under the regulations, RAC contractors and equipment suppliers bear certain responsibilities for compliance and certification. The precise responsibilities of all parties are detailed in Information sheet RAC 3 of the statute.

Dates as described in the EU fluorinated gas regulation

The fluorinated gas regulation sets forth specific dates when organisations were obligated to comply with certain defined mandates. Failure to comply carries serious consequences that can result in fines, penalties and litigation.

July 4, 2007 – By this date, all organisations with systems containing 3 kg or more of fluorinated gas refrigerants were required to perform leak testing on a regular basis. All organisations were also obliged to comply with the “qualified personnel” mandate. Systems in the UK that already used 3 kg of ODS were previously directed to comply through earlier legislation.

April 1, 2008 – By April 1 2008, labels that stated the amount and type of fluorinated gas contained in the system became compulsory. Labelling was also required for all newly installed equipment as of this date.

January 1, 2010 – This was the day that a countrywide phase-out of HCFC systems began.

January 4, 2011 - By this date, all company and interim personnel certifications became invalid. All personnel who work on RAC equipment designed to contain fluorinated gases must have achieved minimum certification. Furthermore, all organisations that employ these technicians must have achieved a full Company Certificate.

If you want to find out more about fluorinated gases such as R22 or if you want to remove the harmful gases, get in touch with Oxford Air Conditioning today by calling 01235 524411 or contact us online.

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