Federal halocarbon regulations: frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003?

The purpose of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 (FHR 2003) is to:


The FHR 2003 ensures that systems located on federal and aboriginal lands or owned by the Federal House comply with the National Action Plan for the Environmental Control of Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and their Halocarbon Alternatives. Combined with provincial regulations, these Regulations control the use and handling of halocarbons across Canada.

What is the difference between the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 and the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, 1998?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 control the use and handling of halocarbons (including ozone-depleting substances) in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-extinguishing and solvent systems that are located on aboriginal or federal lands, or are owned by federal departments, boards and agencies, Crown corporations or federal works and undertakings.

The Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, 1998 control the import, export, manufacture, use, sale and offer for sale of ozone-depleting substances. The Regulations are intended to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances by phasing out production and consumption of these substances in accordance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

What are halocarbons?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 define a halocarbon as any substance listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations (listed below), whether existing alone or in a mixture, and includes isomers of any such substance.

  1. Tetrachloromethane (carbon tetrachloride)
  2. 1,1,1-trichloroethane (methyl chloroform), not including 1,1,2-trichloroethane
  3. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)
  4. Bromochlorodifluoromethane (Halon 1211)
  5. Bromotrifluoromethane (Halon 1301)
  6. Dibromotetrafluoroethane (Halon 2402)
  7. Bromofluorocarbons other than those set out in items 4-6
  8. Bromochloromethane (Halon 1011)
  9. Hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFC)
  10. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC)
  11. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)
  12. Perfluorocarbons (PFC)


The term “halocarbon” includes most ozone-depleting substances, as well as their halogenated replacements, many of which are greenhouse gases, currently used in Canada.

How do I know which regulations apply to which systems?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 control the use and handling of halocarbons (including ozone-depleting substances) in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-extinguishing and solvent systems that are located on aboriginal or federal lands, or are owned by federal departments, boards and agencies, Crown corporations or federal works and undertakings.

Most provinces and territories have their own regulations or guidelines to control the use and handling of halocarbons in their individual jurisdictions.

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The Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, 1998 (ODSR 1998) control the import, export, manufacture, use, sale and offer for sale of ozone-depleting substances and are applicable regardless of ownership or location.

To whom do the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 apply?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 apply to:

  • Federal departments, boards, agencies, Crown corporations under subsection 83(1) of Financial Administration Act, and federal works and undertakings that own any equipment, container or device used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire suppression or solvent cleaning that uses a halocarbon or is designed to use a halocarbon;
  • Owners of refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire suppression and solvent cleaning equipment, containers or devices that are located on aboriginal or federal lands and that use or are designed to use a halocarbon; and
  • Persons who install, service, dismantle, etc., any of the above equipment.
What is a federal work or undertaking?

A federal work or undertaking is any work or undertaking that is within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, including, but not limited to:

  1. a work or undertaking operated for or in connection with navigation and shipping, whether inland or maritime, including the operation of ships and transportation by ship;
  2. a railway, canal, telegraph or other work or undertaking connecting one province with another, or extending beyond the limits of a province;
  3. a line of ships connecting a province with any other province, or extending beyond the limits of a province;
  4. a ferry between any province and any other province or between any province and any country other than Canada;
  5. airports, aircraft and commercial air services;
  6. a broadcast undertaking;
  7. a bank;                                     
  8. a work or undertaking that, although wholly situated within a province, is before or after its completion declared by Parliament to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more provinces (eg., nuclear facilities, feed mills); and
  9. a work or undertaking outside the exclusive legislative authority of the legislatures of the provinces.
What are the consequences for not complying with the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003?

Enforcement actions are taken for alleged violations according to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) Compliance and Enforcement Policy. This Policy establishes the principles for enforcement of CEPA 1999 and its regulations and explains to everyone who shares a responsibility for protection of the environment - governments, industry, organized labour and individuals - what is expected of them. It also outlines what to expect from Environment Canada and the officers who enforce the Act and its regulations.

There are several responses to alleged violations available, including: warnings, directions by enforcement officers, tickets, Ministerial orders, environmental protection compliance orders, detention orders for ships, injunctions, prosecution, environmental protection alternative measures, court orders following conviction, and civil suits by the Crown to recover costs.

What is a “certificate” and how do I obtain one?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 (FHR 2003), a certificate is proof of the successful completion of an environmental awareness course in recycling, recovery and handling procedures in respect of halocarbon refrigerants as outlined in the Refrigerant Code of Practice. This is not the same as a trade certification/qualification, nor is it intended to imply any trade qualification.

A certified person is someone who holds a certificate. The FHR 2003 stipulates that only a certified person may install, service, leak test or charge a refrigeration or air-conditioning system or do any other work on the system that may result in the release of a halocarbon. The certificate must be recognized either by the province or territory in which the work is being done or by three or more provinces or territories.

Certification can be obtained through the Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) or one of their delivery partners.

What is an “owner” and what are the owner’s responsibilities?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 (FHR 2003), an owner of a refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-extinguishing or solvent system is someone who meets any of the following criteria:

  • has possession of the system;
  • holds a right in the system (e.g., leases a systems);
  • has control of the system;
  • has custody of the system;
  • is responsible for the maintenance of the system;
  • is responsible for the operation of the system;
  • is responsible for the management of the system; or
  • has the power to dispose of the system.


An owner of a system is responsible for ensuring that all requirements of the FHR 2003 are met for that system.

Note: It is possible to have more than one owner of a system. This situation could arise when the person who has possession of the system is not the same person who maintains the system. In this example, both are owners under the FHR 2003.

What is a “small” refrigeration or air-conditioning system?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, a small refrigeration or air-conditioning system means a system that has a refrigeration capacity of less than 19 kW (approximately 5.4 tonnes) as rated by the manufacturer and generally applies to small domestic appliances.

Are “small” refrigeration and air-conditioning systems subject to the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 apply to all systems regardless of refrigeration capacity. However, small systems are exempt from the requirement to leak test at least once every 12 months, as well as the prohibition to charge a system with a halocarbon.

What are acceptable containers for halocarbons?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, halocarbons can only be stored, transported or purchased in containers that are designed and manufactured to be refilled and to contain that specific type of halocarbon.

What are the guidelines for performing maintenance or leak tests on a refrigeration or air-conditioning system?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, only a certified person may perform maintenance, leak testing or any other work on a refrigeration or air-conditioning system that may result in the release of a halocarbon. In addition, all work must be done in accordance with the Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems.

What are the guidelines for performing maintenance or leak tests on a fire-extinguishing system?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, all work on a fire-extinguishing system that may result in the release of a halocarbon must be done in accordance with the publication ULC/ORD-C1058.18-2004, of the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada, entitled The Servicing of Halon and Clean Agent Extinguishing Systems. Unlike refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, technicians working on fire-extinguishing systems do not need to be certified.

How often must leak tests be performed?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, owners of refrigeration, air-conditioning and fire-extinguishing systems must conduct a leak test at least once every 12 months of all of the components that come into contact with a halocarbon. The only exemptions from this annual requirement are:

  • small refrigeration and air-conditioning systems;
  • air-conditioning systems that are designed for occupants in motor vehicles;
  • fire-extinguishing systems whose cylinder or cartridge has a charging capacity of 10kg or less and are located in military vehicles, military ships or military aircraft; and
  • portable fire extinguishers.
Can I perform a leak test with halocarbons?

Refrigeration, air-conditioning or fire-extinguishing systems must not be charged with a halocarbon listed in items 1 to 9 of Schedule 1 of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 for the purpose of leak testing. The only exception is for refrigeration or air-conditioning systems if the testing is recommended in the Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems.

Can I charge refrigeration or air-conditioning systems with a halocarbon, such as CFCs?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, no person may charge a refrigeration or air-conditioning system with any halocarbon, unless the system has been tested for leaks and, if a leak is detected, the leak is repaired. The only exception to this prohibition is if the charge is required to prevent an immediate danger to human life or health.

With the exception of small systems and chillers, only HCFCs, HFCs and PFCs may be used to charge:

  • Motor vehicle air-conditioning system;
  • Mobile refrigeration systems;
  • Refrigeration and air-conditioning systems;
  • Chillers that have undergone an overhaul;
  • Refrigeration and air-conditioning systems on military ships.
Can I charge a portable or fixed fire-extinguishing system with a halocarbon, such as halon?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, no person may charge a fire-extinguishing system with any halocarbon unless the system has been tested for leaks and, if a leak is detected, the leak is repaired. The only exception is to this prohibition is if the charge is required to prevent an immediate danger to human life or health.

With the exception of fire-extinguishing systems used on an aircraft, a military vehicle or a military ship, or unless authorized to do so by a permit issued under the Regulations, only HCFCs, HFCs and PFCs may be used to charge portable or fixed fire-extinguishing systems.

Can I charge a chiller if it has undergone an overhaul?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, a chiller that has undergone an overhaul may only be charged with HCFCs, HFCs or PFCs.

An overhaul of a chiller includes the following procedures or repairs:

  1. the replacement or modification of an internal sealing device;
  2. the replacement or medication of an internal mechanical part other than
    1. an oil heater,
    2. an oil pump,
    3. a float assembly, and
    4. a vane assembly, in the case of a chiller with a single-stage compressor; or
  3. any procedure or repair that resulted from the failure of an evaporator or a condenser heat-exchanger tube.
Can I operate a chiller that uses a halocarbon, such as CFCs?

Under the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, chillers that contain a halocarbon listed in items 1 to 9 of Schedule 1 (including CFCs) may only be operated until December 31, 2014.

What are release reports and when and where do I send them?

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 prohibits any release of a halocarbon into the environment. However, if a release occurs, it must be reported. There are three possible scenarios in which the release of a halocarbon needs to be reported:

  1. Releases of 100kg or more of a halocarbon from a system, or from a container or equipment used in the reuse, recycling, reclamation or storage of a halocarbon. In this case, the release from a refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-extinguishing or solvent system must be reported within 24-hours to the Minister in a verbal or written report. The report must indicate the name of the owner, the type of halocarbon released and the type of system, container or equipment from which it was released. Within 14-days after the release is detected, the owner must submit to the Minister a written or electronic report containing the information set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.
  2. Releases of more than 10kg but less than 100kg of a halocarbon from a system or from a container or equipment used in the reuse, recycling, reclamation or storage of a halocarbon. In this case the owner must submit a written or electronic report that contains the information set out in Schedule 2 of Regulations twice annually, by January 31 and July 31.
  3. A leak is detected from a refrigeration system, an air-conditioning system, or a fire-extinguishing system and it is necessary to charge the system to prevent an immediate danger to human life or health. In this case, the owner must submit a written record to the minister within 7-days. The report must describe the nature of the immediate danger to human life or health and the circumstances that justify charging the system in order to prevent the danger, the amount of halocarbon charged to the system and the date of the leak or recovery of the remaining halocarbon from the system.

Templates for the above-described release reports are available by email at OzoneProtectionPrograms@ec.gc.ca.

 

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What are service logs and leak-test notices?

Service logs are written or electronic records in which information must be entered whenever a refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-extinguishing or solvent system is installed, serviced, leak-tested or charged, or if any other work is done that may result in the release of a halocarbon. The service log must contain the information set out in Schedule 2 of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003. 

Leak test notices must be completed whenever a leak test is conducted on a refrigeration or air-conditioning system. The certified person must affix a notice to the system containing the information set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations. 

Templates for the above-described service logs and leak-test notices are available by email at OzoneProtectionPrograms@ec.gc.ca.

Where do I keep service logs, leak-test notices, records and reports and for how long?

All logs, notices, records and reports required by the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 must be kept at the premises or site at which the system is located for a period of five years after the date they are prepared or submitted. These records should be easily accessible to the owner and an Environment Canada enforcement officer in case of inspection.

Where can I find the relevant Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) publications?

All Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) publications and standards, including those mentioned in the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 can be purchased from the ULC website.

When can I request a permit from Environment Canada?

If, as an owner, you believe that no technically and financially feasible alternative to a prohibited halocarbon exists that could have a less harmful impact on the environment and on health, you may apply for a permit to install a fire-extinguishing or solvent system that operates or is intended to operate with the prohibited halocarbon. You may also apply for a permit to charge a fixed or portable fire-extinguishing system that operates or is intended to operate with a prohibited halocarbon.

Where can I find more information about the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 and who can I contact with questions?

To find out more about the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, visit Environment Canada’s Ozone Website, where you will find links, fact sheets, permit application forms and contact information for provincial and territorial offices.

If you have any other questions, contact the ozone-depleting substances hotline at 819-938-4228 or by email at OzoneProtectionPrograms@ec.gc.ca.

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