(Image: Environment and Climate Change Canada website)

Halocarbons - what are they and how do they impact the environment?


Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halocarbons are ozone-depleting substances (ODS) that are commonly used as refrigerants in infrastructure, as fire extinguishing agents in military pattern vehicles, and as solvents for equipment cleaning and maintenance. Halocarbons have the ability to destroy the ozone layer.

All life on Earth is protected by the ozone layer. This layer of gas acts as an invisible filter that protects all life forms from over-exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. To stop further harm to the ozone layer, halocarbons and the equipment containing them are closely controlled.

After refrigerants were widely put in use, it was discovered that they deplete the ozone layer and later on, that they have global warming potential (GWP). Since then, regulations such as the Federal Halocarbon Regulations (SOR/2003-289) and Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations (SOR/2016-137) and worldwide agreements such as the Montreal Protocol were created to regulate the production, use and phase-out of halocarbons.

Garrison Petawawa has around 1000 halocarbon systems. 150 of these systems have larger cooling capacities that require leak tests to be conducted annually as per the Federal Halocarbon Regulations (SOR/2003-289). Any leaks over a certain amount are required to be reported to the federal regulator – Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). ECCC can choose to inspect Garrison Petawawa to determine if there are any non-compliances with the legislation. Environment Services conducts compliance inspections, which allows us to find any deficiencies and to inform the infrastructure maintainers to make the necessary corrections or repairs.

Garrison Petawawa is working to phase-out ODS by replacing and retrofitting equipment and systems with ones that contain more environmentally friendly refrigerants and fire suppression agents; however, while we still have regulated halocarbons, we must comply with the regulations and abide by the controls that are in place. Any releases of halocarbons whether it be in infrastructure systems or fire suppression systems in military vehicles are required to be reported to Environment Services.