NZ engineers convicted for depleting ozone layer

WELLINGTON Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:00am BST

A refrigerator sits on the sidewalk of New Orleans September, 30, 2005. REUTERS/ Charles W. Luzier

A refrigerator sits on the sidewalk of New Orleans September, 30, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/ Charles W. Luzier

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Two refrigeration engineers have been convicted by a New Zealand court for depleting the ozone layer.

The country's Ministry for Economic Development prosecuted the two men in the first ever case taken under a 1996 law protecting the ozone layer.

The pair released an ozone depleting substance, chlorodifluoromethane HCFC22, into the atmosphere as they were repairing a drinks chiller, and ignored a warning that it was hazardous.

The Ministry said it took the case as a warning to industry. The two were convicted and fined NZ$750 each (290 pounds).

Permits are needed to handle HCFCs, which will be banned under an international agreement from 2015.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)