GB No. 9, autumn 1992
Kraków's mechanical works "SPOMASZ" are most definitely one of the biggest regular users of CFCs in the country. The factory specializes in repairs and general overhaul of the industrial cooling equipment, air conditioning units and freezers.
Freon is shipped to "SPOMASZ" in 90kg containers from POLGAZ in Kędzierzyn, originally imported from Italy and Germany, to be subsequently transferred into 5kg containers, with a loss of approximately 3% of its initial volume in the process, this mainly due to leaky valves and couplings. Even larger quantities of CFCs are said to be escaping to the atmosphere during the on-site equipment servicing on the clients' premises.
The plan for substituting R-12 with much less harmful R-22 and R-134A agents, or even propane/butane derivatives, as recently worked out by the UN experts, does not seem to be technologically feasible. All existing equipment has been designed to use R-12 as the coolant and its adaptation to any alternative agents appears extremely costly. It has to be noted, however, that all these difficulties notwithstanding, the Western countries have in fact been using extensively the substitutes of this harmful substance.
All "SPOMASZ" is presently attempting, is to minimize the escape of freon into the atmosphere by virtue of using the leak-proof valves and the extraction of freon from the damaged air-compressors and other cooling equipment before any repairs are effected on it.
In 1990 "SPOMASZ" used ca. 20-25 tones of freon. In 1991 ca. 11-12 tones were used, according to the estimates. Considering, however, that there was no corresponding reduction in the volume of the overhaul work actually carried out by the factory, one cannot escape the uneasy feeling, that the remaining 11 tones of freon may have found their way to the private entrepreneurs, running little repair shops for household equipment. Should this be the case, the entrepreneurial spirit of their owners would hardly stand in the way of escaping freon, that's for sure.