Manage fluorinated gases and ozone-depleting substances: guidance for industry

If you deal with stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps, fire extinguishers and mobile air conditioning, high voltage switchgear and solvents, you need to know how to deal with fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gas) or ozone depleting substances (ODS) to comply with the law.

Fluorinated greenhouse gases

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) are a group of chemicals containing fluorine. These include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Ozone-depleting substances

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are gases that damage the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. They are being phased out, but can be found in older equipment. These include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and bromofluorocarbons (halons). Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were once commonly used but are now completely banned.

Uses and sectors

F-gases and ODS are used in a number of sectors, including:

  • refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps
  • fire protection systems and fire extinguishers
  • mobile air conditioning
  • high voltage switchgear
  • solvents
  • specialist sectors

F-gas and ODS regulations

If you manufacture, supply, use, install or service equipment containing F-gases orODS, or if you manufacture or supply F-gases, you need to be aware of what the EU F Gas Regulations and Ozone depleting substances (ODS) Regulations require of you.

Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and air pumps (RAC systems)

This is the largest single use of F-gases and ODS.

F-gas obligations

The F-gas Regulations place many obligations on the operator of the equipment. If you operate an RAC system that uses refrigerants containing F-gases, you must:

  • take steps to prevent F-gas leaking and repair any leaks as soon as possible
  • regularly check equipment with 3kg or more of F-gas refrigerant for leaks
  • fit an automatic leak detection system in systems with 300kg or more of F-gases
  • keep records about refrigeration plant that uses more than 3kg of F-gases
  • recover F-gases during plant servicing and maintenance, and at the end of plant life
  • use appropriately qualified personnel, from a company who hold a company certificate from an approved body, to carry out installation, servicing and to check for leaks
  • label new equipment adjacent to service point, clearly stating the type and quantity of HFC refrigerant used, and make sure this information is included in instruction manuals

Definition of operator

The operator of an RAC system may not be the owner. The F-gas Regulations define the operator as: “The natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems covered by this regulation.”

Keeping records

Your F-gas records must include the:

  • identity of each piece of equipment
  • quantity and type of F-gas in each item
  • quantity of F-gas added
  • quantity of refrigerant recovered during servicing, maintenance and disposal
  • name of the company or technician that carried out the servicing or maintenance
  • dates and results of leak and leak detection system checks
  • name, postal address and telephone number of the operator

You should keep copies of these records on site to make sure they are kept up-to-date and are available for inspection when necessary.

Checking leaks

You should check these parts of the RAC system for leaks:

  • joints
  • valves including stems
  • seals, including seals on replaceable driers and filters
  • parts of the system subject to vibration
  • connections to safety or operational devices

How often you test for leaks depends on the type of system. You should test:

  • every 12 months for systems containing between 3kg and 30kg of F-gases
  • every 6 months for equipment with 30kg to 300kg
  • every 3 months for systems with 300kg or more

Leak detection system

Equipment with 300kg or more of F-gases must be fitted with a leak detection system.

This is defined in Article 2.10 of the regulations as: “A calibrated mechanical, electrical or electronic device for detecting leakage…which, in detection, alerts the operator”.

If you have a leak detection system, you can reduce the frequency of your testing by half, but you must still carry out checks at least once a year.

Qualifications and certification

People that check for leaks, install, maintain or service equipment containing F-gasesmust hold an appropriate City & Guilds or Construction Industry Training Boardqualification. There are 4 different levels of certification:

  • Category 1 – certificate holders can carry out all activities
  • Category 2 – recover refrigerant, installation, maintenance and servicing on systems containing less than 3kg of F-gases
  • Category 3 – recover refrigerant in systems containing less than 3kg of F-gases
  • Category 4 – certificate holders can check for leaks on any plant if they don’t break into the refrigeration circuit

Businesses that install, maintain or service RAC equipment need to hold a company certificate.

Defra has designated 3 company certification bodies. To obtain a company certificate contact one of the designated bodies:

If you don’t hold a full company certificate you will be committing an offence under theF-gas regulations.

ODS obligations

If you operate any of these systems using refrigerants containing ODS, you must:

  • only use recycled (your own and not that of others) or reclaimed HCFCs to maintain plant until the end of 2014
  • stop using all HCFCs to maintain plant from 1 January 2015
  • take steps to prevent HCFCs leaking and repair any leaks as soon as possible
  • regularly check for leaks – requirements are the same as for F-gases
  • keep appropriate records
  • label equipment to which recycled or reclaimed HCFCs have been added
  • recover ODS when servicing and maintaining plant and/or at the end of plant life
  • use appropriately trained personnel to carry out servicing and maintenance, leakage checking and recovery

Keeping records

The records you need to keep will depend on whether you operate mobile or stationary equipment and on the amount of refrigerant in that equipment.

When recycled or reclaimed HCFC refrigerants are added to a stationary system containing 3kg or more, you need to keep records that show:

  • what and how much refrigerant has been added
  • who did this servicing or maintenance (person or company)
  • who supplied the reclaimed HCFCs
  • where the recycled HCFCs came from

For all stationary systems containing 3kg or more, you need to keep records that show:

  • quantity and type of refrigerant added
  • quantity recovered during maintenance, servicing and final disposal of the equipment
  • company or technician who carried out the maintenance or servicing
  • dates and results of the leakage checks carried out

Labelling

When recycled or reclaimed HCFCs are added to RAC equipment, you need to label it. The label should show the:

Qualifications

People working on RAC systems containing HCFC refrigerants must hold the full minimum qualifications as specified in Schedule 1 of the England, Wales and ScotlandOzone Depleting Substances Regulations.

Fire protection systems

F-gases may be used in specialised fire protection systems, like the ones installed in buildings serving computers or telecoms.

F-gas obligations

If you operate fire protection systems that use F-gases you must:

  • take steps to prevent F-gas leaking and repair any leaks as soon as possible
  • regularly check equipment with 3kg or more of F-gas refrigerant for leaks
  • fit an automatic leak detection system in systems with 300kg or more of F-gases
  • keep records about systems that use more than 3kg of F-gases
  • recover F-gases during plant servicing and maintenance, and at the end of plant life
  • use appropriately qualified personnel to carry out installation, servicing and to check for leaks, and hold a company certificate from an approved body
  • label new equipment and make sure this information is in instruction manuals
  • report information to the EU and Defra if you produce, import or export more than one tonne of F-gases a year from or to a country outside the EU
  • not use non-refillable containers to transport or store F-gas as this is banned

Check for leaks

How often you test for leaks depends on the type of system. You should test:

  • once a year for systems containing between 3kg and 30kg of F-gases
  • every 6 months for equipment with 30kg to 300kg
  • every 3 months for systems with 300kg or more

If you have a leak detection system, you can reduce the frequency of your testing by half, but you must still carry out checks at least once a year.

Keeping records

Your F-gas records must include the:

  • quantity and type of F-gas in each item
  • quantity of F-gas added
  • quantity of refrigerant recovered during servicing, maintenance and disposal
  • name of the company or technician that carried out the servicing or maintenance
  • dates and results of checks for leaks and leak detection system checks

You should keep copies of these records on site to make sure they are kept up to date and are available for inspection when necessary.

Qualifications and certification

Personnel that install, service and maintain fire protection equipment must hold an appropriate qualification. This can be either a:

  • Fire Industry Association F-gas competency certificate
  • equivalent appropriate European qualification

Businesses that install, maintain or service fire protection equipment need to hold a company certificate.

The Fire Industry Association manages this scheme. Contact them for more information about qualifications or to obtain a company certificate.

Labelling

Any new fire protection systems and fire extinguishers must be fitted with a label clearly stating that the equipment contains F-gases, and the type and quantity of F-gasused.

Instruction manuals that come with the equipment also need to contain information on the type of F-gas it contains.

Mobile air conditioning and transport refrigeration

The air conditioning systems in most vehicles built after 1993 use F-gas as a refrigerant.

Mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems are regulated by the EU F-gas Regulation and MAC Directive. The regulations apply to:

  • companies and individuals involved in servicing and repairing MACs
  • companies and individuals involved in dismantling vehicles

Qualifications

To remove F-gas refrigerants from mobile air conditioning systems when the systems are being maintained or before they are disposed of, technicians must have appropriate qualifications.

Qualifications that meet the minimum requirements are available from 4 awarding bodies:

You don’t need to hold a qualification if you are receiving F-gases or are recharging MAC systems with gas.

Switchgear

Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a particularly potent F-gas that is used to insulate high voltage switchgear. The electricity supply industry and rail networks are the main owners and operators of this type of equipment.

F-gas obligations

If you use switchgear containing SF6, you must:

  • recover SF6 when servicing and maintaining plant, and at the end of plant life
  • recover any residual SF6 in used refillable or non-refillable containers
  • use appropriately qualified personnel to make sure SF6 is recycled, reclaimed or destroyed from switchgear
  • label new equipment
  • not use non-refillable containers to transport SF6

Gas recovery

If SF6 needs to be removed from switchgear containing SF6, it must be properly recovered by appropriately qualified personnel.

Once it has been recovered the SF6 can be used again and sent to be reclaimed or destroyed.

Qualifications

Personnel that recover SF6 from switchgear must have the appropriate qualifications. This could be either a:

  • England, Wales and Scotland qualification that meets the minimum requirements
  • European qualification

There are a number of certification and evaluation bodies, some of which offer appropriate qualifications:

  • ABB Limited
  • Alstom Grid UK Ltd – SF6 Gas recovery course
  • EA Technology Limited – SF6 Gas competence course
  • Lucy Electric UK Limited
  • Schneider Electric Limited
  • Siemens Transmission and Distribution Limited – SF6 Gas competence course
  • E.ON UK plc
  • EDF Energy Networks plc
  • Electricity Northwest Limited
  • National Grid Electricity Transmission plc
  • Scottish and Southern Energy plc
  • Scottish Power Development
  • Western Power Distribution (south Wales) and (south west)

Labelling

Any new switchgear system containing SF6 must be fitted with a label clearly stating the type and quantity of SF6 used.

Any instruction manuals must state that there is SF6 in the equipment.

Keeping records

You don’t have to keep records but it’s recommended to effectively manage SF6inventories and switchgear.

You should record the:

  • location and identification reference of equipment
  • make and type of equipment
  • quantity of SF6 installed in each item when first commissioned
  • quantity of SF6 added
  • quantity of SF6 recovered during servicing, maintenance and final disposal

Solvents

A relatively small number of specialist manufacturers use cleaning solvents such as Vertrel, Lenium ‘F’Series, Solvokane, Electrolube or Flutec containing F-gases in metal and glass manufacturing.

If you use solvents you must:

  • properly recover them when servicing or maintaining plant, and at the end of plant life
  • make sure that personnel that recover solvents or receive containers of F-gas have appropriate qualifications

Various ozone depleting substances such as CFCs that were widely used as cleaning solvents are now banned under the EU Ozone Regulation.

The Regulation also states that you should:

  • regularly check for leaks
  • only employ qualified personnel to recover solvents

Qualifications

Personnel that recover F-gas solvents must hold either a:

  • Fraser Technology solvents F-gas qualification or
  • European qualification

Contact Fraser Cleaning Technology for more details.

Specialist sectors

Other specialist sectors that have to control and manage F-gas by law include:

  • fluid supply – manufacture, import, export or supply of F-gas substances and blends
  • metered dose inhalers – drug administration systems
  • aerosols and one-component foam – technical product propellants and exempt uses in construction
  • electronics – semiconductor manufacturing
  • magnesium smelting – exempt use in small-scale smelting operations
  • foam – F-gas blowing agents for rigid foams such as polyurethane, phenolic and extruded polystyrene

Qualifications and certification

Under the EU F-gas Regulation personnel qualifications and company certificates issued in any EU country are valid throughout the EU.

Reporting

If your business produces, reclaims, imports or exports more than one tonne of fluorinated gases in a year, you need to send data to the European Environment Agency.

Reporting is done online. Further information and the appropriate forms are available from the European Commission (F-gas reporting and ODS reporting).

You should also send a copy of your submission to Defra. To file an annual report or for more information, email Defra F-gas data reporting atccubusinesssupport@defra.gsi.gov.uk

If you suspect a business doesn’t have the correct certification or its staff aren’t appropriately qualified, you should contact the Environment Agency’s chemical compliance team at chemicalrestrictions@environment-agency.gov.uk

Enforcement

If you don’t comply with the F-gas or ODS Regulations you will be committing an offence and may have enforcement action taken against you, including prosecution

 

Source: www.gov.uk 

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