JIS News

The Ozone Act should be passed in the Houses of Parliament by the end of the year, enabling Jamaica to officially participate in the global effort to reduce the depletion of the ozone layer by reducing and eventually eliminating the use of ozone depleting substances (ODS).
“It is expected that the Act will be in place by the end of 2005” says Anastasia Calnick, Director of Pollution Control at the Ministry of Land and Environment.
She tells JIS News, that due to the adverse effects of ODS on human health, Jamaicans stand to ultimately benefit from the implementation of the Act.
“Depletion of the ozone layer has adverse effects on human health, with such effects as skin cancers and damages to the eye as well as to the environment in the form of decreased crop yields, damage to forests and marine life. Jamaicans will ultimately benefit from a healthier life and environment,” she points out.
In 1999, the Attorney General advised that steps should be taken to enact a separate piece of legislation to deal with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. The Protocol was adopted in 1987 as an international treaty to eliminate the production and consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals.
Jamaica’s first response to this international requirement was the setting up of a legislative sub committee in February 2001, to prepare the draft elements for inclusion in an Ozone Act. Since then, several orders and legislation have been passed to phase out the production and use of ODS.
These include the Trade Amendment Order in 2002, which provided for the prohibition in the sale of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC); the Trade (Prohibition of the Importation of Halon) Order in 2002, which bans the importation of virgin halons; and the Pesticides Regulations of 1996. These Acts have complemented existing legislation to control the importation of methyl bromide, which have been in existence since 1987 under the Pesticides Act.
The document setting the provisions for the Ozone Act was completed in 2003 and outlines principles to control the import and export of ODS and ODS-based equipment and guide future action under the Montreal Protocol including a freeze in carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform used as solvents in the electronics industry and laboratories, as well as any new ODS.
It also provides for the establishment of three (3) committees: A National Ozone Commission (NOC) to advise the Minister on the allocation of quotas and give guidance and oversight in matters related to the phasing out of ODS; A Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Licensing Board responsible for examining and making decisions on matters concerning the grant, suspension or revocation of licenses for refrigeration and air-conditioning technicians and an Appeals Tribunal to hear from persons aggrieved by the decisions of the Licensing Board or the NOC and penalties for violations under the Act. The violations include the import and export of banned ODS, import/export of restricted ODS, misrepresentation and fraud, venting of ODS & licence violations.
The Act also addresses regulations and orders on matters such as the establishment of the licencing board and the requirements for licencing, the setting of quotas for ODSs, the emergency supply of CFCs for defence, public health and safety and the duties of the technicians in the recovery and final disposal of CFCs.
Mrs. Calnick informs that while under the Montreal Protocol, developed countries were required to phase out the consumption of ODS such as CFCs by 2000, developing countries including Jamaica, have until 2010 to implement the Act.
She says the 10-year grace period, was given to developing countries, “since they do not have the financial resources nor capacity to implement the control measures of the Protocol by 2000 and therefore needed more time”. Jamaica has however, committed to phase out CFCs by January 1, 2006, she informs.
And how will Jamaica acquire the necessary funds to phase out the chemical substances and implement the Act by the set timeline?
The Pollution Control Director tells JIS News that the Montreal Protocol has established a multilateral fund to assist developing countries in meeting the increased costs of complying with the Protocol.
Financial and technical assistance has been provided to facilitate phasing-out activities including the transfer of environmentally friendly technologies, public awareness and education and training programmes in ODS recycling and recovery techniques, she points out.
Similar provisions have been enacted in other developing countries, which have signed on to the Montreal Protocol.
Facilitating the implementation of the Ozone Act locally is the National Ozone Commission, which comprises representatives from government, the refrigeration and air conditioning industry, the motor vehicle sector and academia.
The Commission meets on a quarterly basis to review the work carried out by the National Ozone Unit at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
“The NOC has been very actively involved in the preparation and review of the Ozone Act being developed”, says Project Manager for the Unit, Veronica Alleyne, who also points out that other Caribbean countries have established similar commissions to facilitate the implementation of the Act. “In the Caribbean region, St. Lucia already has an independent Act dealing with protection of the Ozone layer, Belize and Grenada are also considering adopting this route”, she explains.
Meanwhile, alternatives are being sought to replace ozone-depleting chemicals. Alternatives for CFCs used in the refrigeration industry, halons used in fire fighting and solvents used in laboratories are being used on a wide scale in Jamaica and Miss Alleyne points out that the users of ODS have been aware of the preparation of the Act for several years and that many have expressed their support although some persons feel that the proposed penalties are too heavy.
The penalties range from a fine of $1million or 12 months imprisonment for the importation or exportation of banned ODS to $100,000 or 3 months imprisonment for the venting of ODS and licence violations.
She says that despite the cost associated with phasing out the use of these substances, the future of the country and the world at large stood to benefit from the effort.
She noted also, that having the Act in place will ensure that proper procedures are adhered to for the phasing-out of ODS. “These procedures will ensure better management and more satisfactory results in phasing out ODS. Also having penalties in place for the respective violations will serve as a deterrent to those not likely to let good judgement prevail,” she further adds.