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Illegal refrigerant action brings more awards for Spain

SPAIN: SEPRONA, the environmental protection service of Spain’s Civil Guard, has won further awards for its actions against the illegal trade in refrigerants.

The latest awards for customs officers and police were presented in Kiev this week by the United Nations Environment Programme’s OzonAction branch for customs officers and police.

The award granted this year to SEPRONA and the Environmental Coordinator Prosecutor’s Office was for four operations carried out last year targeting illegal HCFCs and HFCs. These included Operation Cheiro against the use of prohibited refrigerants on livestock farms in Zamora; Operation Kigali, a national action carried out against greenhouse gas emissions; and an action against the illegal management of electronic waste and toxic waste in Soria. 

The fourth action, dubbed Operation Malvarma, involved the illegal traffic of fluorinated gases from Spain to Panama and France. This is thought to refer to the action reported in April this year, when the Guardia Civil uncovered an alleged illegal trade in refrigerant R22.

This is not the first time that Spain has received awards for its efforts in combating the illegal trade in refrigerants. In 2012 and 2013 SEPRONA unit identified and prosecuted owners of websites which offered HCFCs and even CFCs (R12) for recharging refrigeration equipment. The operation led to the arrest of 110 people and the seizure of large quantities of refrigerant.

Further investigations in 2014 found around 20 advertisements for R22 on different websites. This resulted in investigations into four people in Cadiz, Gerona, Barcelona and Alicante and the seizure of six cylinders containing 62kg of R22 in total. 

Spain’s success is attributed to the fact that the Civil Guard employs almost 2,000 police officers specialised in environmental crimes.

Related stories:

Valencia company investigated over illegal R22 exports5 April 2019
SPAIN: The Guardia Civil has uncovered an alleged illegal trade in refrigerant R22 being carried out by a Valencia-based company which is thought to have netted up to €1m. Read more…

Awards for illegal refrigerant investigations18 May 2016
EUROPE: The successful prosecutions of cyber criminals selling illegal ozone-depleting refrigerants on the internet are to bring awards for the authorities involved. Read more…

Three months jail for selling 12kg of R2228 March 2017
EUROPE: A further conviction for the sale of illegal R22 refrigerant and an investigation into 40 more instances have been reported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Read more…

Six months prison for illegal R22 sale 24 February 2017
SPAIN: A former company owner in Spain has been sentenced to six months in prison after offering the HCFC refrigerant R22 for sale on the internet. Read more…

Waste handler jailed for CFC release23 October 2016
SPAIN: UNEP has repeated warnings to waste handlers after the owner of a Spanish recycling company received two years’ jail for releasing refrigerants to atmosphere. Read more…

Spain to receive award for R22 seizures17 March 2016
SPAIN: Authorities in Spain are to receive a special award from UNEP for its efforts to stem the flow of illegal R22 refrigerant. Read more…

Prison for improper disposal of fridges 3 February 2015
SPAIN: Five managers of waste sites have been given prison terms of up to four years and 200 more could face court for incorrectly disposing of refrigerators. Read more…

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