In this round-up: the Commission insists it is taking action to prevent illegal trade in HFCs; The German air conditioning and refrigeration industry raises doubts about an amendment to the German Chemical Act to combat illegal trade. Recent investigations by the Cooling Post into just one online store offering refrigerant; UNEP provides more guidance on dealing with seized refrigerants; Seizures of illegal HFCs in The Netherlands, Romania, UK and Greece.
In response a written question to the European Commission about illegal HFC refrigerant imports tabled Spanish MEP, César Luena, the Commission’s executive vice-president Frans Timmermans insisted that a number of targeted actions had been taken to prevent the illegal trade, including integrated restrictions being added to the EU Single Window environment for customs which will result in automatic compliance checks of every shipment declared for release for free circulation (see Cooling Post).
The German air conditioning and refrigeration industry considers that in addition to being impractical, the proposed as an amendment to the German Chemical Act to combat illegal trade would create considerable additional bureaucracy at a time when the authorities are struggling to implement the current F-gas regulations (see Cooling Post).
Recent investigations by the Cooling Post into just one online store offering refrigerant in contravention of the F-gas regulations reveals links to Eastern European crime, exposes failings in the UK company registration system and highlights the inadequacies of the European enforcement agencies. Read the complete Cooling Post article.
UNEP provides more guidance on dealing with seized refrigerants with the publication of the new document, Checklist on Auctioning of Seized Refrigerants – How to Get it Right. The document covers a broader range of issues than auctioning including setting out the disposal options.
Seizures of illegal HFCs
THE NETHERLANDS: Over one thousand illegal HFC cylinders seized in port of Rotterdam, as a result of the excellent work done by OLAF (European anti-fraud office) and local enforcement agencies. The non-refillable cylinders containing HFCs, are illegal in the EU and consisted of R-134a, R-32, R-404A and R-410a. See EFCTC press release and OLAF press release.
ROMANIA: Operations carried out by the Romanian authorities, based on intelligence supplied by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), have helped keep 76,045 kg of illicit refrigerant gases off the EU market. Most of the refrigerant gases were packaged in non-refillable cylinders, which are banned in the EU. See OLAF press release.
UK: Seized refrigerant at local firm, labelled as R-134a in non-refillable cylinders found to be flammable. The head of REFCOM Graeme Fox commented that illegal imported refrigerants used by unscrupulous contractors is a very serious problem and can be an extreme danger to life and property. See Refrigeration Industry News.
GREECE: Illegal import of 329kg of HFCs results in arrest of two Greek nationals. See Cooling Post.