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EIA investigates illegal HFC claims

UK: A leading environmental group is to investigate reports of widespread illegal sales and use of HFCs in Europe.

In response to recent Cooling Post reports of illegal refrigerant imports and sales across Europe, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has contacted over 150 associations, refrigerant distributors, consultants and contractors in an effort to understand the current situation.

The group, which recently exposed widespread illegal use of CFCs in China, says it is collecting data on the scale of the problem, the reason behind the illegal activity and exploring measures to be taken to ensure effective implementation of the EU F-gas regulation.

The results of its investigations are expected to be published in November.

In recent months the Cooling Post has exposed widespread and ongoing illegal activity, seemingly brought about by the European F-gas phase down measures. A huge drop in import and production quotas has resulted in massive price increases and supply issues with some of the higher GWP refrigerants.

The potential profits to be made from importing cheap gas from outside the EU has apparently created a black market trade in refrigerants. Much of this product is being sold, quite openly on internet sites. Some of it is being sold in disposable, non-refillable cylinders, a type of cylinder which was banned in Europe in 2007.

It is also unclear whether this refrigerant is being imported outside the quota system but it is evident that most sellers are, at best, paying lip-service to requirements to only sell to F-gas certified engineers/companies. 

It is evident that banned ozone-depleting HCFC R22, and even CFCs, are being sucked into Europe as part of this illegal activity.

In addition, there have been reported cases of seizures of illegal refrigerant at border crossings and a number of large-scale thefts.

Related stories:

Banned R22 openly sold in disposables7 September 2018
POLAND: The Cooling Post has found that illegal ozone-depleting R22 refrigerant is being openly sold in illegal disposable cylinders in Poland under the very noses of the authorities. Read more…

German thieves target R134a15 August 2018
GERMANY: Rising costs and market shortages have led to increasing reports of thefts of refrigerant from commercial premises across Germany. Read more…

German eBay awash with illegal R134a30 July 2018
GERMANY: With European authorities still reluctant to recognise the extent of illegal refrigerant sales, the Cooling Post has uncovered large amounts of illegal R134a being sold in Germany. Read more…

Poland swamped by illegal refrigerant
POLAND: The Cooling Post has found that illegal ozone-depleting R22 refrigerant is being openly sold in illegal disposable cylinders in Poland under the very noses of the authorities. Read more…

Illegal refrigerant costs Greece €20m – 23 July 2018
GREECE: The Greek air conditioning and refrigeration industry has accused EU member state Bulgaria as being a gateway for illegal refrigerant from Albania, Macedonia and Turkey. Read more…

Cantas “shock” at illegal imports – 13 July 2018
TURKEY: Istanbul-based refrigerant supplier Cantas has reacted with shock to learn that its refrigerant is being imported into the UK in illegal non-refillable cylinders. Read more…

Government rejects F-gas concerns – 10 July 2018
UK: The UK government insists it will maintain the HFC phase down post-Brexit but has ignored claims that the Environment Agency does not have the adequate resources to tackle compliance. Read more…

UK failing to enforce F-gas regulations – 25 April 2018
UK: The Environmental Audit Committee has expressed concern that the Environment Agency is under-resourced and failing to adequately investigate “large levels of non-compliance” with the F-gas regulations. Read more…

UK a hub for illegal refrigerant sales – 23 March 2018
UK: There are concerns that the UK has become a centre for sales of refrigerant in illegal disposable cylinders, a container which has been banned from use in Europe for over 10 years. Read more…

Phase down sparks rise in illegal sales – 21 March 2018
EUROPE: With the F-gas regulations beginning to bite and higher GWP refrigerants becoming expensive and scarce, evidence of illegal imports and sales is increasing. Read more…

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