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Global waste crackdown lands 25 tonnes of HFCs and HCFCs

Photo: ©Polish customs

BELGIUM: Approximately 25 tonnes of HFCs and HCFCs have been seized in the a global crackdown on illegal shipments of hazardous waste.

Operation Demeter VIII, which took place from 1 to 31 October, saw 90 customs administrations from around the world cooperating to prevent the shipment and illegal cross-border shipment of hazardous waste and substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol.

Preliminary results show that 139 seizures were made during the operation. In addition to 3,647 tonnes of waste and an additional 8,662 pieces of (unweighted) waste, the operation netted 25 tonnes of HFC and HCFC refrigerants.

The main incident involved 1,239 non-refillable cylinders containing over 19 tonnes of refrigerant seized in Poland.  This included quantities of R134A, R507 and R23, as well as a small quantity of ozone-depleting R22. A second case involved the interception in Argentina of 5 tonnes of the fire suppressant HFC-227ea.

The Demeter operations date back to 2009, with the latest operation being the largest in the series. It was led by the secretariat of the World Customs Organisation, the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia/Pacific (RILO A/P) and China Customs, with the assistance of an operational coordination unit based at the RILO A/P in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

In addition, the operation was supported by the Basel Convention secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) OzonAction, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the WCO-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Container Control Programme, Interpol, Europol, the European Union Network for Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), and the WCO RILO network.

“There is no doubt that customs plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change and the success of operations such as Demeter clearly demonstrates that cooperation is critical in this domain,” said the secretary general of the World Customs Organisation Dr Kunio Mikuriya.

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