Canadian faces $1.2 mn fine for depleting ozone layer

September 22nd, 2008 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Sep 22 (IANS) A Canadian faces $1.2m in fines for releasing ozone-depleting Halon-1301 from a fire-suppression system at his property in Burnaby near Vancouver.Halons, used in fire extinguishers, are the most dangerous form of ozone-depleting substance.

Scientists say Halon-1301 not only eats the ozone layer, but is also a deadly greenhouse gas “thousands of times more powerful” than carbon dioxide. Although Halon-1301 is a liquid, it vapourises instantly on release.

The ozone layer at the top of the earth’s atmosphere protects us from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which can cause skin cancer. Release of ozone-depleting substances by people - mainly chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) used as refrigerants and fire retardants - has created holes in the ozone layer over the north and south polar regions.

According to a report, more than 3,800 kg of Halon-1301 was released into the atmosphere two years ago, inviting the stiff penalties under Vancouver city bylaws and British Columbia provincial laws. Halon-1301 is an HCFC.

The Vancouver Sun newspaper said it was the largest single release of ozone-depleting substances in recent Canadian history.

The paper identified the offender as Donald Rix, a well respected Canadian who has won the nation’s highest Order of Canada award and is the current chairman of the high-powered Vancouver Board of Trade.

His property - 0727219 BC Ltd - is charged with releasing the ozone-depleting Halon-1301 into the atmosphere June 4, 2006.

Curiously, Rix was not the owner of the property when the deadly release occurred. It was under Teleglobe, which was owned by a Los Angeles-based American, when the incident happened.

But the authorities are after his company that now holds title to this property - 0727219 B.C. Ltd. That did not change during Rix’s purchase, the newspaper said.

Under the law, if this substance had been released during a fire, there would have been no offence.

Canada banned production and import of Halons in 1994.

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