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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

4 February 2000

AUSTRALIA EXPANDS OZONE PROTECTION ROLE


Environment Minister Robert Hill has released a new National Halon Strategy, reaffirming Australia's commitment to lead the world in the responsible management and phase-out of the ozone-depleting gas.

Senator Hill said the new management strategy will see an expansion in Australia's efforts to reduce halon stocks throughout the Asia Pacific region.

"Our National Halon Bank is the second largest depository in the world. Its collection efforts since 1993 have seen Australia destroy more stocks than any other nation."

"Australia will now play a greater role in protecting the ozone layer by opening our bank to neighbouring countries allowing the safe recycling and storage of halon for essential purposes and the destruction of excess stock."

The Melbourne-based National Halon Bank (NHB) has collected more than 1100 tonnes of halon 1211, used in old portable fire extinguishers now being phased out. The NHB has also collected 560 tonnes of halon 1301; used in fixed fire protection systems for enclosed spaces such as aircraft, computer rooms and ship engine rooms. As no alternative fire retardant has been developed to replace halon 1301, it is recycled and safely stored for limited essential uses, agreed to under the Montreal Protocol.

"The recent $9 million sale of halon 1301 to the United States gives Australia the funding base to expand our halon banking services to neighbouring countries such as New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia, India and China," Senator Hill said.

"Offering our halon management expertise to neighbouring countries, particularly those who aren't signatories to the Montreal Protocol is a major international step forward in helping to reverse the depletion of ozone over the Antarctic and Arctic regions," Senator Hill said.

Media contact:
Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Environment Australia : Milton Catelin (02) 6274 1481

Commonwealth of Australia