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A system is urgently needed to prevent ozone-depleting gases contained in insulation material being released into the atmosphere, the Environment Ministry said Friday.

In a report outlining a national chlorofluorocarbon management strategy, the ministry said it will review methods to collect and process CFCs used for insulation in home appliances and building materials, with an eye to legally enforcing the retrieval and destruction of those used in appliances.

Nearly 30 percent of CFCs are used as refrigerants, while most of the rest are used for insulation. A fraction — less than 1 percent — is used in aerosol sprays and as solvents.

Although the Home Appliance Recycling Law, enacted in April, and a CFC refrigerant collection law to take effect next year cover CFCs used in refrigerants, those used as insulation remain unregulated.

As of the end of last year, there were nearly 57,100 tons of CFCs in use. Refrigerants accounted for 16,700 tons and insulation 40,000 tons, according to the ministry report.

The ministry estimates that only 18 percent of CFCs used in automobile air conditioners, 27 percent of those in household refrigerators and 56 percent of those contained in industrial cooling systems were collected in 1999.

In addition, the ministry said it has launched a survey to determine how much CFC exists in home insulation, its location, how rapidly it leaks and viable policy and processing options.

The report will be further developed in consultations with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry before being submitted to the United Nations.

Environment Program at the end of July, as mandated by signatories to the Montreal Protocol to curb emissions of ozone-depleting gases in December 1999.

Climate change team

Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Friday won Cabinet endorsement for a team to combat global warming, including a new vice ministerial post.

Hironori Hamanaka, head of the Global Environment Bureau, will become vice minister in charge of the global environment on July 1, ministry officials said. He is expected to assist Kawaguchi at the July 16-27 sixth Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The assignment will bring unusually swift changes in the posts of three other senior ministerial officials.

Shigeru Sumitani, head of the ministerial secretariat, will replace Hamanaka, while Seizo Matsumoto, head of the Environmental Management Bureau, will replace Sumitani. Tetsushige Nishio, head of the Nature Conservation Bureau, will succeed Matsumoto, the ministry said. Hikari Kobayashi, a ministry councilor, will succeed Nishio. All appointments will be effective July 1.

They assumed the current posts Jan. 6. The switches demonstrate the growing importance of policies on global environment at the ministry, ministry officials said.

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