AUSTRALIA: A fire protection company has been fined a record AUS$500,000 (US$357,000) for the illegal import of an HFC.
The AUS$500,000 fine for the importation of 5 tonnes of the fire suppressant HFC-227ea is said to be the largest of its kind for a contravention of Australia’s strict environmental regulations.
Following a civil prosecution from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, this week the Federal Court of Australia found ACN 089 171 415 Pty Ltd, formerly known as Fire Protection Technologies Pty Ltd, to be in contravention of section 13(1) of Australia’s Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act.
HFC-227ea was the original non-ozone-depleting replacement for Halon 1301, but, due to its high GWP of 3,220, it has been included in the list of controlled substances under the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. An HFC phase-down controlled by an individual quota system was implemented in Australia from 1 January 2018.
The importations from China were carried out between 4 July 2018 and 12 October 2018. The amount involved was roughly one third of all HFC-227ea imported into Australia that year.
ACN 089 171 415 Pty, then known as Fire Protection Technologies Pty, operated a fire-safety business that included the sale of fire extinguishment systems containing HFC-227ea. The company held a trading licence which permitted it to store and otherwise deal with substances such as HFC-227ea but not to import them.
The HFC227ea was found by inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment in five cylinders. Four were found in the company’s Melbourne premises and the fifth in the company’s premises in Perth, having been transferred there by the company. Three of the cylinders were full – each containing about 1 tonne of HFC227ea – and two were nearly empty. It was presumed that the gas that they had contained was sold for use, or used by the company, in firefighting equipment.
The cylinders with unused gas were seized, and must now be destroyed at the company’s expense, estimated to be around AUS$100,000 (US$70,000).