The main theme for this year’s EIGA Winter Technical Meeting (WTM) was once again ‘Acetylene’, a meeting that took place in Brussels on 29th January 2009 and featured 151 participants from around 21 European and five overseas nations.

All participants, including those from as far afield as Australia, were aware that interest for acetylene is high on the agenda all over the world and every chance for training and knowledge transfer must be used.

The Winter Session kicked off in traditional style with the Council’s and Board of Directors’ meetings on 28th January, while running parallel to the Board meeting was a Training Session held for new EIGA members and working group (WG) members, for the better understanding of the functions of EIGA and the internal and external roles and duties of the experts involved.

The Welcome reception and Dinner, set in a beautiful, historical restaurant near the centre of Brussels, closed a busy day and afforded the first official speech of new EIGA President Guy Salzgeber, Vice-President of Air Liquide European Operations.

Participants from all European EIGA member companies met the next morning for an administrative ‘Ordinary Meeting’, followed by presentations from selected EIGA Working Groups about their actual projects and achievements during 2008. Without doubt, the subjects of REACH, GHS and the successful Task Force on Greenhouse Gases were also items of particular interest.

Focus on safety
Salzgeber warmly welcomed the Heads of the present 16 national industrial gases associations and pointed out the importance of the daily contribution of the present 60 EIGA Working Group members, for the benefit of all member companies and their subsidiaries around the globe.

In his position of President, Salzgeber pointed out, “The deep economic, financial crisis that we are experiencing might lead to strong changes within Europe, but not only for our industry.”

The Award ceremony for EIGA´s most successful Working Group in 2008, the WG for ‘Specialty Gases’, was a highlight of the IGC report presented by the chairman of the Industrial Gases Council, Eric Fortuit. Meanwhile, during the afternoon session on acetylene several speakers presented their specific point of view reflecting EIGA’s strong focus on safety matters.

Additionally, there followed brief information about the strict decisions regarding the forthcoming EIGA Summer Event 2009 which was cancelled in Estonia and will be held in Germany, as well as the postponed National Associations meeting, the Workshop 2009 and next year’s two-day Symposium about ‘Process Safety’ - postponed until 2011 in Düsseldorf or Brussels.

The WTM 2009 was followed by a two day meeting of the International Harmonisation Council – hosted by EIGA for its sister associations from the Far East (AIGA), the US (CGA), Japan (JIMGA) and Australia & New Zealand (ANZIGA).