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Mystery of 13,000 empty refrigerant cylinders

17634759_lUAE: Mystery surrounds the seizure of thousands of refrigerant cylinders in the Port of Ajman at the end of May.

Customs officers reportedly foiled a smuggling bid involving a huge haul of 13,000 refrigerant cylinders in 11 containers.

Although the Cooling Post is still waiting for official confirmation, they appear to have been empty cylinders, as evidenced by reports that the haul was reported to have been worth only AED1m or around €240,000.

According to reports in the Khaleej Times, Ali Al Tamimi, director of customs affairs at the port, said the cylinders were substandard and dangerous.

The Asian man responsible for the attempted importation is reported to have confessed that he tried to smuggle the cylinders into the country to sell them across the Emirates, claiming that there is a shortage of cylinders in the region.

While the smuggling of refrigerant has become all too familiar, this is the first time the Cooling Post has been made aware of seizures involving empty cylinders.

Published photographs show generic Chinese R404A cardboard packaging, yet the disposable cylinders are the light green of R134a. The Cooling Post has not yet been able to ascertain whether these photographs are representative of the entire consignment. In addition, the cylinders appear to be blank, with no obvious manufacturers stencil marks.

A number of other questions remain unanswered including any details as to what initiated the seizure.

The UAE is no stranger to illegal refrigerant activity, being exposed as a major hub for illicit trade over the last few years.

There is no suggestion that this latest seizure is in anyway connected but refrigerant manufacturer DuPont was behind police raids in 2008 and 2010 in the UAE, when counterfeit refrigerant, printing templates and printing machinery were seized. In both cases involving the same company pre-filled unbranded refrigerant containers were being imported from China and re-labelled with the DuPont brand.

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