Palau, along with many other nations of the world, collectively have pledged to initiate efforts that help reduce the harmful chemicals that contribute to the depleting ozone layer. The main causes of ozone depletion and the ozone hole are manufactured chemicals, especially manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, halons), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
Palau was fortunate to participate in the “Pacific Islands Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Training Program” that was held in Melbourne, Australia in December 2022. This training was made possible through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Air Conditioning and Refrigerant Equipment Manufacturers Association (AREMA), a resource center for Australian air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. As the refrigeration industry moves into more effective and safe refrigerants, older refrigerants will be replaced with newer ones that have a lower global warming potential. This training was to train Pacific Island Country technicians to return to their home country and provide in country training and guidance on the use of flammable refrigerants such as R600 and R32. Due to the nature of these refrigerants, there is an urgent need to be properly trained on their safety, storage and application.
Through the Palau Refrigerant and Air Condition Technician (RAC) Association, Mr. Galindez R. Kiep was selected to participate in this training to obtain knowledge, experience and guidance on becoming a trainer on the proper handling, use and safety measures of using flammable refrigerants, such as R600 and R32. Mr. Kiep is an alumnus of Palau Community College where he obtained his AAS Degree from the Air Condition Program, where he worked for a number of years before moving on to Surangel and Sons Co., and now Palau National Communication Corporation (PNCC) as an HVAC Tech. At the training in Australia, he was joined by other pacific island country participants where they were provided hands on training on the use, safety, storage and handling of these products. He gained invaluable insight and guidance on how to bring what he has learned and translate it into our needs. When asked for his final thoughts about the whole experience, he states, “Palau must do her part in protecting global warming and stop purchasing older refrigerants and look into safer alternatives” and that if we “minimize the use, import and purchase of equipment that use old refrigerants and switch to safer alternatives, we can help reduce emissions into the ozone”.