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Customs seize 13.5t of refrigerant in illegal cylinders

NORTH MACEDONIA: The customs authority in North Macedonia says it has seized a shipment of over 13.5 tonnes of HFC refrigerant in illegal disposable cylinders coming in from Greece.

The shipment, totalling 1150 cylinders, was discovered in a truck with Macedonian license plates at the crossing point in Bogorodica on the Greek border. 

Although not a member of the EU, North Macedonia has EU candidate status and, in line with EU legislation, the use of disposable (non-refillable) cylinders has been prohibited in the country since 2015. 

Several types of HFC refrigerant were said to have been contained in the shipment. Photographs indicate that these included R404A, R407C and R507A. All appear to be “United Refrigerants” branded cylinders. 

The goods have been seized, and one unnamed individual and a “legal entity” are said to have been charged with illegal trade, punishable under North Macedonia’s criminal code.

Little is known of the United Refrigerants brand. The logo employing the stars and stripes in its design suggests it is of US origin and a website gives an address in New York but with no phone number and an email address that bounced.

To avoid confusion, it should be noted that this company has no connection with the established North American HVAC wholesale distributor United Refrigeration, or any other company of a similar name.

The United Refrigerants website lists Brothers Gas Bottling & Distribution, a Dubai-based industrial gas supplier, as its only distributor. Established in 1992, Brothers Gas is described as a one stop solution for refrigerant gases with strategically located offices and depots across the globe. Its US office is based at the same New York address as that quoted on the United Refrigerants website.  

There is no suggestion that United Refrigerants or Brothers Gas was involved in, or had any knowledge of, this shipment. The Cooling Post was unable to contact United Refrigerants but Brothers Gas has been contacted for comment. 

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