R22-disguised-as-R134aRUSSIA: Customs officers in Vyborg have intercepted 20 tonnes of R22 disguised as R134a in a shipment from China.

The cylinders of gas were declared in custom’s import documentation as R134a and boxed in cartons marked as R134a. On opening the cartons, however, the cylinders were quite clearly marked as R22.

Imports of R22 into Russia were banned at the end of 2014, as domestic production is deemed sufficient to meet its Montreal Protocol phase-down agreements. However, R22 prices are extremely high, making the smuggling of cheap R22 from China particularly attractive. The shipment was valued at nearly €52,000.

In a separate incident last year, Russian customs officers in Nakhodka detected and seized a shipment from China of 25,850kg of R22 and R141b in 1,660 cylinders. The cylinders were mislabelled as R134a and R404A. In a similar incident July 2013, customs officers at the port of Taganrog intercepted over 4,000kg of R22 disguised as R134a. Again, the cartons were labelled as R134a but the cylinders were marked as R22, a fact later confirmed in chemical tests.

In January last year, Russian authorities broke up a large-scale smuggling ring and seized over 1,500 refrigerant cylinders of various sizes, self-made reclamation and filling equipment, as well as documents, seals and labelling. In all, the haul included 6,800kg of R22, 2,040kg of R113, 4,080kg of  R12, 2,720kg of R141b and 18,800kg of R11. The shipment papers indicated ethylene-glycol instead of R11 and R134a instead of the other substances.

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