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Tuesday, 8 October 1996
Page: 3744

(Question No. 180)


Senator Brown asked the Minister for the Environment, upon notice, on 22 August 1996:

(1) Why is an exemption from the Ozone Protection Act 1989 required for Ansett to import `Rainboe' repellent.

(2) Who makes `Rainboe' repellent and where is it made.

(3) What are the repellent's effects on the environment.

(4) What alternatives does Ansett have.

(5)(a) Who else has imported `Rainboe'; (b) in what quantities; and (c) when.


Senator Hill —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Ansett Australia applied for a once off exemption under the Ozone Protection Act 1989 (the Act) to import 80,500g canisters of `Rainboe' rain repellent in 1996.

`Rainboe' rain repellent is a product containing a chemical water repellent suspended in CFC-113 in a pressurised canister. It is used to enhance the vision of pilots when landing aircraft in very heavy rain, such as that experienced during the monsoon in northern Australia. The canister fits into a windscreen spray unit on jet aircraft.

Approximately 50 per cent of airlines using Boeing aircraft around the world have indicated that they wished to continue the use of `Rainboe' rain repellent pending the approval of an alternative system. The US Department of Transport has issued Boeing with an exemption to enable continued shipments of `Rainboe' to aircraft operators outside the USA.

Section 38 of the Ozone Protection Act 1989 (the Act) bans the importation and manufacture of certain products which contain ozone depleting substances. The current list of products includes: dry cleaning machinery; automotive air conditioning maintenance kits; disposable containers of refrigerant; extruded polystyrene packaging and insulation; aerosol products; products containing halon; rigid polyurethane foam products; moulded polyurethane foam; and refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. `Rainboe' is not a typical aerosol product in that it requires installation into a spray unit to operate.

Section 40 of the Act provides that the Minister for the Environment may grant an exemption if the product is essential for medical, veterinary, defence or public safety purposes; and no practical alternative exists. In this case, I granted an exemption for the import of `Rainboe' rain repellent on public safety grounds and because no practical alternative to the use of this product is available in Australia for existing aircraft.

(2) `Rainboe' was manufactured in the USA by Sprayon Products, a division of the Sherwin-Williams Company and is a registered trade mark of Boeing. `Rainboe' rain repellent, was formerly fitted routinely to most jet aircraft by manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.

(3) `Rainboe' contains 95 per cent CFC-113, which is an ozone depleting substance with an ozone depletion potential of 0.8.

(4) Research by both Airbus and Boeing to develop an alternative solvent for the water repellent has been unsuccessful to date. While alternative hydrophobic coatings are currently being applied to the windshields of new aircraft, application of such coatings to the windshields of existing aircraft is still being trialed.

(5) Qantas and other operators of Boeing and Airbus jet passenger aircraft have imported `Rainboe' in previous years. Information on quantities imported is not available.