Halon Information Clearinghouse Webpage
for the English-Speaking Caribbean

A web site managed by the Department of Chemistry at the University of West Indies


Halon Management and Phase-out in the
English-Speaking Caribbean

Halon management refers to a collection of activities that have as their goal the eventual elimination of halon use. These activities have been set in motion by the requirement of most English-speaking Caribbean countries to comply with the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

The connection between certain halogenated compounds and the depletion of the ozone layer came to a dramatic head with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985. The need to reduce the production and use of these ozone-depleting substances (primarily CFCs and halons) was addressed at a conference in Montreal, Canada in 1987, which negotiated the United Nations Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Protocol did not come into force until 1989, and at that time, 29 countries ratified it.

Since then, there have been a number of amendments to the Montreal Protocol: London, 1990; Copenhagen, 1992; Montreal, 1997 and Beijing, 1999. Each amendment introduced new restricted compounds and/or additional control measures. In recognition of the difficulties faced by developing countries attempting to meet their obligations under the Montreal Protocol, the Multilateral Fund was established in 1991. This financial mechanism is assisting developing countries to gradually phase out their production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS), including halons.

Today, all of the English-speaking Caribbean countries have either ratified or acceded to the Montreal Protocol, along with at least some of the more recent amendments. All these countries are, therefore, committed to phasing out their consumption of halons and many have already taken steps to do so, steps which include regulatory action.

The UNEP Ozone Secretariat and the OzonAction Programme websites provide extensive information and avenues for assistance to persons interested in ozone depletion, the mechanisms by which this can be done and the obligations stemming from the Montreal Protocol.

The UNEP Ozone Secretariat and the OzonAction Programme websites provide extensive information and avenues for assistance to persons interested in ozone depletion, and the mechanisms by which this can be done.

· Ozone Secretariat
· OzonAction Programme

The Montreal Protocol, Halons and You

The Montreal Protocol and all of its amendments address the issues around all ozone-depleting substances, of which halons are only one group. There are specific requirements for countries dealing with halon phase out.

The countries in the Caribbean are classified as Article 5 (developing) countries under the Protocol, and have a more elongated phase out schedule than the developed countries, which have already phased out halon consumption and production in 1996. The schedule for Article 5 countries includes a freeze of halon consumption from 1995-1997 halon levels by 2002, a 50% reduction by 2005, with complete phase out by 2010. It should be noted that this reduction schedule applies to consumption as defined under the Montreal Protocol:

Since Caribbean countries do not produce or export virgin halon, their obligations are essentially to reduce and phase out halon imports. It is important to remember that the actual use of halon is not controlled under the Montreal Protocol. Parties to the Protocol are allowed to continue using their existing halon stocks indefinitely as long as imports are restricted in accordance with the phase-out schedule. However, Parties are also encouraged to take practicable measures to reduce their emissions of halons, as well as to recover, recycle and reclaim existing stocks of halons, as a means to avoid the need for importing virgin material. Accordingly, Parties must prepare Halon Management Strategies to limit their emissions and explore options for recycling, reclamation and destruction.

It should also be noted that recovered, recycled and/or reclaimed halon is also not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. Hence, Parties are allowed to continue using, importing and exporting used halon.

Click here for a summary of the latest ozone depleting substance control measures.

Halon Management in the English-Speaking Caribbean

A comprehensive and integrated strategy for cost-effective halon management is critical to enable low-volume consuming developing countries to meet the halon phase-out schedule under the Montreal Protocol. A Halon Management Plan provides for such a strategy by enabling a country to:

· maintain its current level of fire protection safety;
· avoid economic disruption;
· gradually reduce its dependence on halons; and
· ensure identification of, and provision for, critical uses of halons

Six countries are leading the development of a broad-based Halon Management Plan within the English-speaking Caribbean, with the assistance of UNEP and Environment Canada's contribution to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund. The countries are: Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. These countries are participating in a project through which they are providing advice and information to halon stakeholders in their countries, formulating and implementing a regulatory framework to comply with the halon phase-out schedule, developing national halon management plans and collaborating in the establishment and management of this Halon Information Clearinghouse.

It should be noted that participation in this regional approach does not substitute for but rather complements national strategies for the management and phase-out of halon. Each country is responsible for its own compliance under the Montreal Protocol and for ensuring that it has a strategy of its own to do this.

A summary of regional activities to address Montreal Protocol requirements

To date, information has been provided about the halon reduction activities of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. In general, these countries have no production of either halons or halon-based equipment, and only import these commodities. As such, the primary mechanism of halon control is through the regulation of imports.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is well on its way to meeting its requirements under the Montreal Protocol. At this time, Halon 1211 consumption has been practically eliminated, but there is still a significant amount of Halon 1301 still in use.

As mentioned earlier, Trinidad and Tobago rely primarily on import regulation to control the amount of halon in the country. To achieve this, halons have been placed on the "Negative List" by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. As such, halon requires a Minister's License for importation. Also, there was an amendment of the Customs Act, Chapter 78:01 to specially reclassify halons in the Customs (Common External Tariff) Order, 1998. These regulations, along with the ready cooperation of the private sector have enabled Trinidad and Tobago to be significantly ahead of its planned phase out schedule.

There is other legislation that could be adopted to control halon use, for example, the Environmental Management Act #3 of 2000 allows for the classification of ozone depleting substances as air pollutants, and so they may be regulated by the Air Pollution Rule when it is implemented.

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The approach to halon control in Jamaica is like Trinidad's, in that the major control mechanism is through import regulation. A Ministerial Order under the Trade Act of February 18, 1998 banned the importation of halon-based fire fighting equipment. Along with this came a halt in the importation of halon as well. Other than this, there is no regulatory stipulation on halon importation or use. However, suppliers voluntarily follow the National Fire Protection Association's codes, and so some standards are present. Also, Jamaica's Bureau of Standards established standards for the labelling of all containers of halon.

The stock of halon currently present in Jamaica is believed to be enough to service the essential-use needs of the country. Non-essential users are to be encouraged to switch to alternative products; however, this will be strictly voluntary. To assist with the process, Jamaica plans to implement a halon bank that would store and distribute halon. The actual nature of the facility is yet to be determined.

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Guyana is an importer of halon and so can control use by importation regulations. The country plans to ban the importation of virgin halon, and to encourage the responsible use of the stored halon until alternative technologies can be installed.

The Laws of Guyana Fire Fighting Regulations (1973, Cap. 95:02, Subsidiary of Factories [Fire Escape] regulations, Section 13) deals with fire extinguishers, but does not mention the type of fire extinguishing agent that should be used. The civil aviation section is regulated by standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Standard 9.2.10 mandates a minimum of 225 kg halon to be maintained at each international airport. It is noted in the standard that halons are to be phased out and recommend substitutes - either 225 kg dry chemical powder or 450 kg carbon dioxide. The only international airport, Cheddi Jagan International Airport, has increased its stocks of carbon dioxide and dry chemical powder, while phasing out halon. The comprehensive Environmental Protection Act 1996 can be used to regulate all matters concerning the environment, and can include ozone depleting substances. The National Ozone Action Unit is directly responsible for ensuring that Guyana meets its requirements under the Montreal Protocol.

Guyana has less than one tonne of Halon 1211 remaining, in only two sectors - civil aviation and the Guyana Fire Services. The Guyana Fire Services voluntarily stopped importing halon, and replaced halon extinguishers with alternatives. They have given a commitment to avoid purchasing halon-based fire-fighting equipment. Guyana Air, the national airline, has contracted its maintenance services externally, and so no longer imports halon. There are two other small aviation service companies, the Guyana Sugar Cooperative Aircraft Maintenance Department, and Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Services Limited that still use halon extinguishers on their aircraft. Both companies find the alternatives, dry chemical powder and carbon dioxide unsuitable for their use, and plan to replace Halon 1211 with Halotron 1, a mixture of HCFC 123 and HCFC Blend B. Halotron 1 is much less destructive to the ozone layer. Apart from these instances, there is no other installed capacity for halon in Guyana.

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Barbados has made good progress in reducing the use of halons in the country. The halon in Barbados is found generally in portable fire extinguishers and fixed fire suppression systems. There is no specific legislation covering either the import of halon, or standards for fire suppression equipment, but in spite of this, the private sector has been very proactive in assisting with phasing out halon use in the island. This is attributed primarily to the general scarcity of halon in the international marketplace, as well as increasing sensitivity to the negative environmental impact of halons.

The Environment Division of the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Environment has been conducting halon surveys since 1995, and note that no halon has been imported into the country since 1995. Although there is no longer any installed halon capacity in fixed suppression systems, there is still a significant amount of halon in old portable fire extinguishers. As these old units are replaced, they are collected by private safety companies and stored. However, it is thought that a large amount of halon (2 - 3 metric tonnes) may be still in use, as users are unaware of the halon problem, or unwilling to undergo the expense of upgrading their fire extinguishers.

Barbados has a plan to establish a halon bank to recover all halon in the island, to facilitate its appropriate redistribution, export and destruction. In addition, public education and outreach programmes will increase the information available to the average Barbadian, and help speed up the identification and collection of old, halon-containing fire extinguishers. And finally, a review and upgrade of Barbados legislation is planned to prevent the import of halon in the future.

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