SPAIN: A former company owner in Spain has been sentenced to six months in prison after offering the HCFC refrigerant R22 for sale on the internet.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that the individual was sentenced in January at the Madrid Provincial Court. In addition to the prison sentence, he was also fined and prohibited from involvement in any commercial activity related to refrigeration or air conditioning for six years.

After closure of his enterprise in 2012, the person decided to sell the remaining equipment and materials and offered a 60kg R22 refrigerant cylinder on the internet.  He was said to be aware that selling HCFC refrigerant in Europe is illegal.

The advertisement was spotted by the Guardia Civil’s SEPRONA Unit in January 2013, and offered to buy the R22 refrigerant under a fictitious name. The refrigerant cylinder was subsequently seized and ordered to be destroyed by the judge.

The case was one of a number that came to light during SEPRONA investigations in 2012 and 2013 into possible illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances, focusing on refrigerants offered for sale on the internet.

A number of website advertisements were identified offering HCFCs and even CFCs for recharging refrigeration equipment. Thirteen breaches of the ODS regulations were discovered and large quantities of refrigerants, particularly R22, were seized.

Further Spanish investigations in 2014 uncovered around 20 advertisements for R22 on different websites. This resulted in action being taken against four people and the seizure of six cylinders containing 62kg of R22 in total.

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