23955332_sNEW ZEALAND: The major refrigerant suppliers in New Zealand have agreed that from January 1 2015 refrigerant will only be sold to trained, license-holding engineers.

The agreement will require purchaser to hold an approved filler or handler certificate, or refrigerant license and will apply to all refrigerants. A voluntary arrangement has been in place since 2011.

According to VASA eNews, more than 2000 people have successfully attained the necessary certificates and Refrigerant Licensing New Zealand (RLNZ) will be running extra courses to maximise the number of people who are able to get a certificate before the deadline.

It is hoped that the licensing scheme will eventually carry the force of law as the NZ government considers replacing voluntary regulation for refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases with mandatory controls.

Speaking to VASA eNews, Matthew Allfree, RLNZ’s training manager, said “The Ministry for the Environment is conducting a review of refrigerants under its product stewardship scheme with a view to putting some stronger regulation around it,” said Mr Allfree. “They recognise that voluntary schemes tend to favour non compliant companies and penalise responsible ones.”

There were calls for training and proper licensing of New Zealand engineers following the ignition of propane refrigerant at the Icepak refrigerated warehouse in 2008, which killed one firefighter and seriously injured seven others. At the time, it was described as New Zealand’s worst industrial accident.