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2009/12/23 06:00 KST
S. Korea to ban import, production of freon, halon gases in 2010

  
SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will ban all imports and domestic production of freon and halon gases starting in 2010 as part of a worldwide effort to protect the Earth's ozone layer, the government said Wednesday.

   The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said the restrictions are in accordance with provisions set by the Montreal Protocol signed by Seoul in 1992.

   The protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances that are believed to be responsible for global ozone depletion posing serious problems for all life on the planet.

   It said because the country had prepared to cut ozone-destroying gases by developing alternative substances, the fallout for local businesses will be small.

   Seoul agreed to phase out the use of both halon and freon gases starting in 1999 with a full-fledged ban to be enforced in 2010.

   Freon gas or Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is a coolant widely used in air-conditioners, while halon gas is found in many fire extinguishers.

   "Research and development has made it possible to replace CFC with hydrochlorofluorocarbons while halon can be substituted with NAF S-III," said Lee Seung-woo, head of the ministry's steel-chemical division.

   The country spent 40 billion won (US$33.7 million) to help companies make the transition.

   He said that in the case of halon, the gas can be used in some instances where there is no substitute such as in special fire extinguishers for museums.

   In addition, the country can recycle both CFC and halon gases circulating in the country made before the blanket ban went into effect.

   South Korea had taken aggressive steps to cut the use of ozone-destroying gases and released just 75,844 tons of CFC and halon during its decade-long grace period from 120,242 tons it was allowed to use under the Montreal pact.

   On an annual basis, the country which released 13,981 tons of ozone-destroying gases in 1998 cut the total by 87 percent to 1,852 tons last year.

   The ministry said that because hydrochlorofluorocarbons will be gradually banned as well starting in 2013 under the second phase of the global reduction plan, the country will take steps to find new substitutes before the complete ban is imposed in 2030.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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