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Seized “R134a” was flammable

UK: F-Gas certification body Refcom has issued a warning to rogue refrigeration and air conditioning contractors following the confiscation of illegal products being used by a firm in Derbyshire.

The refrigerant in illegal disposable cylinders marked as R134a was also found to be flammable.

Following a tip off, Refcom alerted local trading standards officers, who along with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), seized and disposed of the dangerous gases.

“It later emerged that the gas was counterfeit as the cylinder advertised the contents as R134a, which is not flammable, but the mysterious gas used was seen to catch fire,” said head of Refcom Graeme Fox.

“The continued use of these illegal imported refrigerants by unscrupulous contractors is a very serious problem. Not only do they damage the environment and atmosphere, but are an extreme danger to life and property.

“As if the actions of this firm were not bad enough, they were also seen to use an illegal cylinder in an ambulance bay,” he added. “The consequences of using flammable refrigerant in equipment not designed to work with this type of gas in such a critical environment hardly bear thinking about,” Fox said.

The matter is in the hands of the HSE and it has not been revealed what the cylinder actually contained.

Inadequate enforcement

Despite the successful outcome of this investigation, Graeme Fox is concerned that the enforcement of the F-gas regulation remains “patchy and inadequate”.

“Authorities need to raise their game to enforce existing legislation because there are still far too many cowboy operators using illegal products that they buy online,” he said. 

“Refcom members are audited to ensure safety and legal compliance so they are rightly sick of being undercut by uncertified firms using dangerous practices and dodgy products.”

Last year, illegal “R134a” found in a car workshop in Romania was found to contain mixtures of R22, hydrocarbons and other unknown gases with small amounts of R134a. One of the “R134a” cylinders bought from the internet was found to be just 1.3% R134a. The remainder of the contents was predominantly R22 (96%) and a hydrocarbon. Another cylinder was nearly 86% flammable hydrocarbon, with just 13% R134a and the rest air.

Related stories:

Illegal R134a revealed as potentially dangerous fake2 July 2019
ROMANIA: Car workshops in Romania are being warned that illegal R134a flooding the market includes fake material that is damaging vehicle air conditioning systems. Read more…

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