Tesco C02 refrigeration system leak leads to evacuation

Tesco to double naturally refridgerated store numbers

Tesco was forced to evacuate one of its new “eco-friendly” naturally refrigerated stores after another problem with its Co2-powered systems.

Last Saturday, just days after it announced plans to double the number of naturally refrigerated stores from the current 65, shoppers had to be escorted from the Newbury store after a leak from the system’s pipes.

Tesco insisted customers had not been in danger and denied it had inherent engineering issues with the C02 systems. “The Newbury leak was caused by a faulty mechanical joint in one of our ‘first-generation’ CO2 refrigeration systems,” said a spokeswoman. “As a result of our learnings and research, we now install and replace with ‘second-generation’ systems, which use a more reliable joint technology.”

However, the incident is just the latest in a string of problems Tesco has had with the systems, the most serious in December 2010 when several people suffered minor injuries after a pipe burst at a Tesco Extra near Salford.

Industry experts said the leak raised fresh questions about the pressure put on supermarkets to switch to natural refrigerants from HFCs.

“What we are seeing here are teething problems in the design and the engineering of these systems,” said Cedric Sloan, director general of the Federation of environmental Trade Associations.

“They are not inherently dangerous. But the industry is under relentless pressure from the government and others to adopt this technology.”