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Small explosion in chiller, not many hurt

Last month I used this column to issue a plea to the industry for calm, following the failure of the CO2 system at Tesco in Walkden, near Salford just before Christmas

The important thing, I recall saying, was not to panic about the new technology.

Unfortunately the cause (and the theory of ‘it’s only an isolated incident’) wasn’t helped by the fact that another CO2 pipe burst at Tesco a few weeks’ later. But the fact that it also occurred on a similar type of joint clearly points to a component issue, rather than anything more endemic - and the retailer acted swiftly to sort the particular issues out.

But two catastrophic losses on the trot was enough for some people.

Most vocal has been rac trade association FETA which accused retailers and environmental groups of railroading the rac industry into naturals. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of an rac trade body rattling its most powerful customers, but you will judge by the robust responses from retailers that they don’t accept the charges.

For wider consideration of the issues we have our Natural Refrigerants Round Table debate. Held just a couple of days after the Walkden incident, the experts felt able to give an admirably frank response to the issues. The consensus was that we should acknowledge that such incidents will happen as we embrace new techniques. However, there was also plenty that was felt could and should be done to make the industry’s take-up smoother. Training of course is a major part of this, but so are realistic expectations from those in the retail decision chain There were also some who dared to say that perhaps this is a good time to review what we have done and maybe adjust those more ambitious plans a bit.

We did our bit to stir the hornet’s nest by putting a video called Why Supermarkets Explode  (Note to retail lawyers, it’s ironic) -  on the website. On which note, a final plug. If you want to read more about CO2, about technology, about rac issues in general, then do visit racplus.com. You can also have news delivered to your inbox, by signing up for the newsletters on the racplus home page.

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