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


16 September 1997

On International Ozone Day, Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has called upon the rest of the world to follow Australia's lead and stop using halon in fire protection systems.

Senator Hill said that at this week's meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer Australia is urging other countries to acknowledge that existing international halon controls are not far reaching enough.

Senator Hill said recent Australian scientific research showing that the levels of halons in the atmosphere were continuing to rise, despite the global bans on the import, export and manufacture of the substance, were extremely worrying.

"We are encouraging other nations to take the same steps as Australia in limiting halon use and emissions.

"Australia is acknowledged as a world leader in halon control. We met the phase out target date one year ahead of the Montreal Protocol timetable, and made it illegal to have fire fighting equipment containing halon when an alternative substance could be used.

"We were also the first country to establish a National Halon Bank."

The halon bank is a collection and destruction point for halon removed from fire fighting equipment which can operate with an alternative substance. It is also designed to provide a supply of halon which will only be used for essential purposes, such as fire protection systems on aircraft and ships.

"Australia can provide positive and tangible examples to other nations of how governments can limit halon use with minimal disruption to industry," Senator Hill said.

The ozone layer protects life on earth from the sun's harmful UV radiation. Halon is a highly effective fire fighting substance but is the most aggressive ozone depleting chemical; it is 16 times more potent than CFCs. There are fire fighting agents that can be used to replace halons.

Media contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
John Durham (Environment Australia) (02) 6274 1651

September 16, 1997 (109/97)

Commonwealth of Australia