The Regulation respecting halocarbons replaced the Regulation respecting ozone-depleting substances on December 23, 2004. It is the result of a major reform of halocarbon management practices which was required in order to comply with the amendments made to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and because of the appearance on the market of new substitute products considered to be greenhouse gases.
Adoption of the Regulation respecting halocarbons is confirmation of Québec’s intention to participate in the global effort to protect the stratospheric ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gases.
Halocarbons are halogenated substances that contain bromine, chlorine and fluorine. In practice, they are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), bromofluorocarbons (halons), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide (CH3Br), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and methyl chloroform (1, 1, 1-trichloroethane). All these substances deplete the ozone layer (ODS). The new replacement substances, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), are greenhouse gases but have no effect on the ozone layer. All halocarbons are synthetic compounds, which means they do not exist in a natural state. They are mostly found in refrigeration and air conditioning systems and in fire extinguishing systems.
The Regulation is divided into seven chapters and includes a schedule.
It covers different sectors of activity such as refrigeration and air conditioning, fire protection, manufacturing of plastic foam, solvents and materials used for sterilization purposes. The refrigeration and air conditioning sector is the most affected by the regulation because of the numerous provisions that apply to it.
The Regulation requires the recovery of halocarbons when work carried out on refrigeration or air conditioning equipment or circuits is likely to result in the release of halocarbons into the atmosphere. It makes no exception for equipment power.
The emission into the atmosphere of halocarbons or their release in a liquid state in a volume exceeding 25 kg must be reported to the Ministère. Certain provisions of the Regulation impose a ban on CFCs by 2015 and halons by 2010 depending on the type of equipment, the volume of halocarbons they use and their power. Other provisions pertain to the mandatory recovery by wholesalers and distributers of recovered halocarbons and their containers. Finally, chapter III covers environmental qualification of the labour force that uses halocarbons.
All provisions of the Regulation respecting halocarbons provide for better management of these substances in Québec.
The objective of the Regulation is to reduce the emission of halocarbons into the atmosphere to protect the stratospheric ozone layer and minimize increases in greenhouse gases linked to emissions of an anthropic origin.
This objective will be reached, notably, by requiring the recovery of halocarbons prior to work on refrigeration and air conditioning units likely to produce atmospheric emissions. Environmental qualification required by the workers will encourage them to acquire the necessary knowledge on the environmental impacts of halocarbons, which will lead to better work practices.
The Regulation concerns several categories of actors:
Most of the Regulation’s provisions took effect on December 23, 2004.
The provision pertaining to the standard for equipment used to recover halocarbons took effect on October 1, 2005. This is also the case with the provisions of chapter IV pertaining to the recovery and reclamation of halocarbons and their containers.
The provisions concerning the mandatory environmental qualification of the labour force using halocarbons takes effect on June 1, 2008.
The direct or indirect emission of a halocarbon into the atmosphere is forbidden (sec. 5).
The sale or distribution of a gaseous halocarbon that is not confined within a refillable pressurized container that may be refilled for the same purpose is forbidden (sec. 7).
The filling of a container, unit or extinguisher intended to contain a halocarbon or to be used with a halocarbon is forbidden if it is defective or if its useful life has ended (sec. 8).
A leak test must be conducted on all containers, refrigeration or air conditioning units or extinguishers before charging (sec. 9). Note that sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a very potent greenhouse gas and therefore may not be used to conduct a leak test.
A person who services, repairs, converts or dismantles components of a refrigeration or air conditioning unit or fire extinguisher that contain halocarbons must first recover the halocarbons into a container designed for that purpose using the appropriate equipment (sec. 10).
The owner of a refrigeration or air conditioning unit having a power rating equal to or greater than 22 kW, on which a halocarbon leak is detected, must immediately stop the operation of the unit and isolate the part of the unit where the leak has been detected. However, authorization may be given to continue operating the defective unit if stopping the unit puts human life or health in immediate danger (sec. 11 and sec. 12). In such a case, the owner of the unit must file a report with the Ministère indicating the types of halocarbons released into the atmosphere, and the reasons why it continues to operate. For this purpose, the person may use the report on the operation of a defective unit (Rapport sur le fonctionnement d’un appareil défectueux – justifications) (see reports and logs to file with the Ministère under the regulation) or any other document that provides the same information.
Any accidental release of more than 25 kg of a gaseous or liquid halocarbon must be reported to the Minister by the owner of the equipment or the person responsible for the release within 24 hours following the time of the release. When the amount is estimated to exceed 50 kg, a report must be provided to the Minister within 30 days following completion of the work. The report must specify the cause of the release and corrections made (sec. 13). For this purpose, the halocarbon release report (Rapport de rejet d’un halocarbure) (see reports and logs to file with the Ministère under the Regulation) may be used or any other document that provides the same information.
Residual materials which contain halocarbons and that are disposed of (refrigerators, freezers, domestic air conditioning units, etc.) must have the halocarbons recovered using recovery equipment before being eliminated or dismantled. This also applies to residual materials that are recovered or dismantled for parts ( (sec. 14 and sec. 15).
A person who employs a person to service, repair, convert or dismantle refrigeration or air conditioning equipment or extinguishers, which may cause the release of halocarbons, must supply that person with recovery or recycling equipment as prescribed for the case (sec. 16).
No person may manufacture, sell, distribute or install a refrigeration or air conditioning unit designed to operate with a CFC (sec. 19).
As of January 1, 2020, no person may manufacture, sell, distribute or install a refrigeration or air conditioning unit designed to operate with an HCFC (sec. 21).
Note: After January 1, 2005, a chiller may be filled temporarily with a CFC for a maximum period of one year (sec. 25).
The term power rating used in the Regulation means the total power rating of all motors connected to the compressors in the same cooling system of a refrigeration or air conditioning unit, calculated from the power of each motor as specified by its manufacturer and expressed in or converted into kilowatts (kW).
The term overhaul used in the Regulation means a reconditioning process that entails the dismantling, inspecting, repairing, replacing, reassembling, adjusting and testing of the main internal components that contain halocarbons or come into contact with those substances.
Based on this definition, main internal components may be an internal anti-leak mechanism, mechanical part or a tube in the heat exchanger in the evaporator or condenser.
An air extraction system installed on a chiller when in operation must not release more than 0.1 kilogram of halocarbons per kilogram of air (sec. 27).
Refrigeration and air conditioning units having a power rating equal to or greater than 22 kW and chillers (appliances that use the refrigerent characteristics of a halocarbon to lower the temperature of a secondary cooling liquid circulating in pipes) are generally of commercial, institutional or industrial use and of high power. Owners of such units must conduct a leak test once a year (sec. 22 or sec. 28).
No person may manufacture, sell, distribute, repair or transform an air conditioning unit operating with a CFC. It is also forbidden to modify such a unit, except to enable it to operate with a substance other than a CFC (sec. 30).
A person who services, repairs, modifies, converts or dismantles an air conditioning unit on a vehicle or who dismantles scrapped vehicles must use recovery equipment when the work is likely to cause the release of halocarbons into the atmosphere (sec. 31 and sec. 32).
There are two categories of extinguishers: fixed extinguishers (saturation system) and portable extinguishers. Some provisions of the Regulation apply to one or the other category, while others apply to both categories.
It is forbidden to manufacture, sell, distribute or install an extinguisher operating with a halon. Exceptions are made for persons or municipalities who have a right to use, keep or own an airplane, ship, helicopter, military vehicle or cultural property (sec. 33).
Note: A fixed extinguisher may be charged temporarily with a CFC for a maximum period of one year (sec. 35).
A person who services, repairs, modifies, converts or dismantles components that may release halocarbons into the atmosphere must use the appropriate recovery equipment (sec. 36).
When an extinguisher is dismantled, the contractor responsible must submit a copy of the repair, service or dismantling log for portable or fixed extinguishers (Registre des travaux de récupération, d’entretien et de démantèlement – Extincteur portatif ou fixe) to the Minister no later than March 31 of each year for dismantling work carried out the previous year (sec.37).
It is forbidden to manufacture, sell or distribute plastic foam manufactured with CFCs or containing CFCs. As of January 1, 2010, this prohibition will apply to plastic foam containing or requiring an HCFC-141b, HCFC 142b or an HCFC 22. As of January 1, 2015, this prohibition will also apply to all plastic foam that contains or requires an HCFC (sec. 39).
Use of a gas containing a CFC or an HCFC for sterilization purposes is prohibited (sec. 40).
There are three exceptions to the ban on the use of these halocarbons:
Environmental qualification for halocarbons, which the labour force must have to use halocarbons, is a major component of the Regulation. It concerns the following major sectors of activity: refrigeration and air conditioning, automobiles, electrical appliances and fire protection. It has an impact on the activities of workers practicing a number of different trades including refrigeration specialist, stationary engineer, automobile mechanic, heavy vehicle mechanic, heavy-duty equipment mechanic and farm machinery mechanic, and other workers in the service trades including body repairman, appliance serviceman and fire protection engineer or sprinkler fitter.
The Regulation describes the qualifications required (sec. 44) to carry out work on units containing or using halocarbons. First, the persons must meet the regulatory requirements governing the professional qualifications of their trade. Moreover, with respect to refrigeration specialist:
With respect to all other trades, persons must also comply with the regulatory requirements governing professional qualifications:
The Ministère has mandated Emploi-Québec and the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) to organize and offer the training, as well as deliver the environmental qualification certificates. Construction workers may obtain details on the training from the CCQ. In all other cases, workers must contact Emploi-Québec. The training has been available since May 2006.
At the moment, the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport is making changes to its training programs for the trades that require using halocarbons to include the objectives of the environmental qualification as described in the Regulation respecting halocarbons. Thus, students enrolled in one of these programs after September 1, 2006, and who will obtain a vocational diploma (DEP), will automatically have their environmental qualification certificate for halocarbons.
As of June 1, 2008, workers who have not received an environmental qualification certificate in accordance with the Regulation respecting halocarbons will not be able to obtain halocarbons nor work on units containing these substances. Offenders will be liable to legal proceedings and a fine.
Moreover, companies hiring workers who do not have an environmental qualification certificate that is valid in Québec or any other recognized by the Regulation are committing an offence and are liable for prosecution and a fine.
Any person who has in his or her possession a container that has been used to market a halocarbon must return it to the supplier if the container is no longer of use. The same requirement applies to any recovered halocarbon that is to be disposed of.
The supplier is required to take a halocarbon back in the following circumstances:
Québec suppliers who are the highest in the chain of distribution are required to reclaim or eliminate all returned halocarbons within 12 months following their receipt. As a rule, halocarbons recovered and returned by enterprises must ultimately be returned to that supplier, who must then decide whether to reclaim them or eliminate them.
These measures have been in effect since October 1, 2005.
Flowchart for recovered halocarbons
In certain situations, it may be necessary to continue operating a defective air conditioning or refrigeration unit to protect human life or health, even if the unit releases halocarbons into the atmosphere. In such a case, the owner must complete the report on the operation of a defective unit (Rapport sur le fonctionnement d’un appareil défectueux - justifications) or any other document providing the same information and forward it to the Ministère. This provision applies to refrigeration and air conditioning units having a power rating equal to or greater than 22 kW.
Any owner of a refrigeration or air conditioning unit or extinguisher that leaks or accidentally releases halocarbons must complete the halocarbon release report (Rapport sur le rejet d’un halocarbure) or any other document providing the same information and forward it to the Ministère. Moreover, they must declare on the report what type of halocarbons are used as solvents. Quantities of accidental releases must be greater than 25 kg to warrant completing this report.
Any person who sells or distributes for wholesale purposes a halocarbon must file with the Ministère an annual report on the sale or distribution of halocarbons (Rapport annuel de vente ou de distribution d’halocarbures) provided by the Ministère. It must be filed with the Ministère no later than March 31 of each year for sales and distributions carried out during the preceding calendar year for each type of halocarbon. In general, persons who must complete this report are those whose enterprises are highest up on the chain of distribution for halocarbons in Québec (primary distributors).
Any person who is responsible for an enterprise subject to the requirement to take back halocarbons recovered under section 61 must complete the annual report on the take-back and reclamation of halocarbons and their containers (Rapport annuel de reprise et de valorisation des halocarbures et de leurs contenants) or any other document providing the same information. This document must be filed with the Ministère no later than March 31 of each year stating the number of times halocarbons were taken back during the previous year. Any halocarbon wholesalers or distributers who have taken back halocarbons that were returned to them must also complete this report.
There are three types of logs, each corresponding to a category of unit and designed to record the information for each type of category. The three category types corresponding to each log are as follows:
In certain situations, it is necessary to complete the repair, service and dismantling log (Registre des travaux de réparation, d’entretien et de démantèlement) or any other document providing the same information: when work is required that involves the use, recovery or recycling of halocarbons; when dismantling units or conducting leak tests on refrigeration and air conditioning units or extinguishers, except domestic purpose units such as halon refrigerators, freezers or portable extinguishers designed for household use. Workers carrying out the work must complete the log.
Logs must be kept for a period of three years.
In certain other very specific situations involving chillers (sec. 25) or fixed extinguishers (sec. 35), temporary filling or recharging with a CFC or halon may be allowed. In the case of a chiller, a temporary filling report must be produced by the owner by completing section 5 of the repair, service and dismantling log (refrigeration, air conditioning or chiller unit (commercial or industrial)) (Registre des travaux de récuperation, d’entretien et de démantèlement (appareil de refrigeration, de climatisation ou refroidisseur [usage commercial ou industriel]) or any other document providing the same information and sent to the Ministère as quickly as possible. In the case of a fixed extinguisher, a temporary recharging report must be produced by the owner by completing section 5 of the repair, service and dismantling log (commercial or industrial refrigeration, air conditioning or chiller unit) or any other document providing the same information and sent to the Ministère as quickly as possible.
As with any legislation, fines are provided for in the case of legal proceedings for all offenders, whether they are a natural or legal person. The following table summarizes the fines.
This regulation will apply in future to the use of all halocarbons in Québec, which will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and help slow depletion of the ozone layer.
Its application requires all organizations, enterprises and persons concerned to better manage halocarbons and make workers aware of the problems associated with emissions of these substances into the atmosphere. On the one hand, this new framework will encourage workers to adopt work practices that are more environmentally responsible and, on the other hand, make the employers of workers using these substances more responsible. In fact, employers must ensure that their employees hold an environmental qualification certificate that is valid in Québec. Finally, it requires them to provide their employees with recovery equipment they need to carry out their duties in compliance with the law.
Adoption of the Regulation respecting halocarbons enables Québec to harmonize its legislation with the amendments made to the Montreal Protocol and the legislation of the other provinces on these same substances.