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1300 tonnes of illegal refrigerants blocked

Smuggled-refrigerantsFRANCE: Customs officers intercepted or prevented the worldwide trade in over 1300 tonnes of ozone depleting refrigerants over an 18-month period to April 2014.

Figures compiled under UNEP’s Ozone Protection Programme reveal that between September 2012 and April 2014 customs officers reported 133 successful seizures of 7370 pieces of equipment (appliances and compressors) and 9513 refrigerant cylinders/containers containing more than 467 tonnes of ozone-depleting chemicals and mixtures.

Investigations into trade license applications prevented a further 67 unwanted/illegal shipments of more than 846 tonnes of ozone-depleting refrigerants. In addition, past cases of more than 175 tonnes of illegal trade in ODS were detected.

Most of the cases involved R22 but some also included CFCs and illegally-shipped HFCs.

Preventing illegal trade in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has been the challenge for customs and enforcement officers over the last 20 years. With the consumption of CFCs banned worldwide

UNEP sees future challenges coming from the increasing trade in HCFCs. The global trade in HCFCs in bulk amounts is currently around 1 million tonnes per year. There are no exact figures on the magnitude of illegal trade, but in the 1990s, the illegal trade in CFCs was estimated to be 20,000 tonnes per year, worth some $150m-300m and equivalent to over 12% of global CFC production.

In the 2000s, global ODS smuggling was put at 7000 to 14,000 tonnes per year, worth some $25m to 60m. In 2006-2007 the World Customs Operation  Sky Hole Patching resulted in 27 seizures of 155 tonnes of ODS in Asia. The global operation Sky Hole Patching II in 2010 resulted in 28 seizures of 64 tonnes of ODS, 728 items of ODS-containing equipment as well as 2 tonnes of cocaine seized together with CFC cylinders.

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