TURKMENISTAN: Illegal European trade in ODS is said to have risen significantly in the last two years, with over 200 seizures in Belgium and Germany alone.
The illegal trade has included equipment containing R22 and CFCs as well as cylinders of R22.
Belgium customs authorities recorded 147 seizures involving a total of 2,344 refrigerators/freezers and air conditioning units and 7,486 compressors. Most of the equipment originated from Germany, France and the Netherlands and the destination countries included Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Togo. In Germany, 48 seizures were recorded involving 38 refrigerators, 68 refrigeration compressors, four truck refrigeration units, and seven car air conditioning units containing R12 and R22 were seized.
The startling figures were revealed at last week’s Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Ozone Protection Award for custom and enforcement officers in Turkmenistan. Awards were made to customs and enforcement officers from Bosnia & Herzegovina, China, Croatia, European Union, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan Awards.
In total, the award winners had intercepted over 20,000 cylinders and items of equipment containing ozone depleting substances in the last two years.
During the period from May 2014 to April 2016, the award winners reported 258 successful seizures of 9,947 pieces of equipment and 10,201 refrigerant cylinders/cans containing more than 70 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances.
The Ukraine estimates that approximately 50,000 air conditioning split systems illegally entered the country in past years, which were declared as R134a equipment but actually contained R22.
Informal Prior Informed Consent (iPIC) consultations between trade partners prior to the issuance of the mandatory export and import licenses avoided 16 unwanted/illegal shipments of more than 174 tonnes of ODS and mixtures.
Uzbekistan reported 15 seizures of 8,589 refrigerant cylinders/cans containing 10,852kg of R12 and R22, as well as R134a and R600a (isobutane) without shipment documents.
For the first time, Romania, Spain and Germany (through the European Commission) reported seizures of ODS which had been offered for sale on the internet. In Spain, about 20 advertisements for R22 were identified on different websites. Four people in Cadiz, Gerona, Barcelona and Alicante were subsequently arrested. One of the offenders has already been sentenced to six months in prison, a fine of €730 and the prohibition to practice any profession resulting in air pollution for 6 years. The other court cases are ongoing.
A similar case was reported in Romania, where the National Environmental Guard investigated online advertisements for the selling of refrigerants, including R12, R22 and R407C. The police and environmental guard found about 20 refrigerant cylinders containing 240kg of R12 and R22. The cylinders were seized and the seller was imprisoned for six months.
In Spain, fishing vessels from different countries of origin were docking in ports of Galicia to purchase R22 for servicing their onboard refrigeration equipment. However, the import and subsequent export of R22 in the EU is only allowed by companies authorised by the European Commission. A search in the electronic licensing system of the European Commission revealed the name of only one company that was authorised for trading refrigerants with fishing vessels. Further investigations revealed that company in question had illegally traded virgin R22 with companies based in Spain and in other EU countries. The companies also sold R22 to companies in non-EU countries without obtaining a valid trade license or without properly declaring the ozone-depleting refrigerants in the customs declaration forms. As a result, 37,000kg of R22 were seized and, in addition to the investigated company, another 24 companies were identified as possibly involved in the illegal trade of R22.
Customs officers in Vyborg in Russia seized 15,640kg of R22 in 1,150 cylinders, disguised as R134a. The ship consignment from China was unloaded at the seaport of Kotka in Finland, and then transported by lorry to Russia. The cylinders were declared as R134a and boxed in cartons marked as R134a. On opening the boxes, however, the cylinders were quite clearly labeled as R22.
In the Western Mediterranean (Antalya) region of Turkey, a Turkish company which had not been registered for import, tried to import 3,100 cylinders of, what they claimed to be HFCs (R404A, R410A and R134a). The cylinders were transported from China by ship. After more detailed inspection and analysis of the content of the cylinders, it was clear that 327 of the cylinders contained R22.