Latin American Countries Draft IIAR-Informed National Standards

The refrigeration industry in Latin America is critical to the regional and global economy, and thanks to an increasing awareness of environmental issues, government leaders are partnering with local chapters of IIAR to use their standards in drafting national regulations for the industry.

Yesenia Rector, the international director at IIAR, said IIAR’s relevance in Latin America is growing, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica wants to adopt IIAR-2 to help develop the country’s national standard in the regulation of ammonia refrigeration systems, Rector said. To do so, the country’s Institute of Technical Norms (INTECHO) is working with the local IIAR chapter to draft national standards. The first meeting was in July, and regular meetings between the two bodies are scheduled.

“The intent is to enhance the safety of the systems within Costa Rica that use ammonia and eventually all natural refrigerants,” Rector said. “They’re meeting regularly and actively studying the standard section by section. They’re very enthusiastic and moving quickly.” Also assisting in the process is a group called CIEME – IIAR’s memorandum of understanding partners. Rector explained this is a national group of electrical, mechanical and industrial engineers. The head of CIEME, Marco Calvo, has been working actively in this initiative.

As far as timelines go, Rector said the future isn’t certain, but progress is being made. For the rest of the year, it appears the committee will work on drafting the norm, but added that she expects that in about a year’s time, they will be getting very close to finalization. “They’ve made the decision to implement it, and they are proactively creating the norm now. It’s a very technical team that’s developing it.”

This is an important step, because IIAR’s standard will be the basis of a codified law in the country. IIAR is serving as a thought leader in the region, and many countries are looking at what’s currently happening in Costa Rica as a model for what is possible in their countries, she said.

“The role [IIAR] has played is to gather the right decision-makers in the country, and the IIAR chapter presidents have been following up on what’s been started,” Rector said. “Having the right people at the right time with the right interests has kick-started the whole thing, but IIAR has served as the spark that lit the match.”

Mirroring what’s being done in Costa Rica, but to a slightly lesser extent, Chile has drafted a fairly simple regulation, based on IIAR standards and the Ammonia Risk Management program administered by the Ministry of Health. “As of now, they are not quite ready to implement it,” Rector said. “They are still trying to account for legal kinks having to do with commerce law, before implementation.” Although this regulation is basic, Rector said it’s an important step forward for the county and the region as a whole.

Argentina and Columbia are “very much interested” in following the model set by Costa Rica, Rector said.

In Argentina, IIAR had a meeting this summer with relevant government officials regarding the possibility of creating a national standard using IIAR-2 as a base, essentially replicating Costa Rica’s process.

Last July, a significant seminar was held by the MoU partner in Argentina. “They were very enthusiastic about the process that’s happening in Costa Rica, and they want to see how they can start implementing something similar as well,” Rector said. She added that Mexico and Peru have also expressed interest and will potentially be moving forward in drafting their own regulations with IIAR’s help.

Looking at the region as a whole, Rector said this is a very exciting time for the refrigeration industry. These systems are extremely important in Latin American counties – there’s a huge need for it across many market sectors including fishing, wine, produce and meat storage. Refrigeration is critical to numerous economies, she said, and it appears that Latin America is developing its environmental consciousness and making meaningful strides in becoming more ecologically friendly.

“The spotlight is going to be on natural refrigerants, and of course ammonia is the refrigerant of excellence,” Rector said. “Because of that, we need to make sure they create a safe environment to use ammonia refrigeration. Awareness is growing, and the interest in safety is receiving greater emphasis. It’s a big step forward for our industry.”

Looking to the future, Rector said she expects the “Costa Rica model” to be replicated further, and that IIAR will be recognized as a leader in the region and an advocate for the safe use of ammonia and natural refrigerants. “Since that’s our vision, and that’s what we’re striving for on a global scale, it’s important that we do this in Latin America,” she said. “The goal is for IIAR to have an active part in this development, and inspire and guide this effort.”