PAKISTAN: Customs officers in Karachi have seized 18 tonnes of ozone depleting refrigerant R22. 

According to UN Environment, the seizure resulted from a tip-off to customs appraisement officer, Rahmatullah Vistro, one of a number of customs officers around the world who have received UN Environment training to identify ozone-depleting substances and smuggling techniques.

The business responsible for the shipment had originally imported it from China via Dubai. The company claimed it to be R32, and the isotank was pasted with stickers declaring its contents as R32 and flammable.

“Custom’s vigilance was critical to this important seizure,” said Shaofeng Hu, regional coordinator for the Montreal Protocol in Asia and the Pacific. “The original shipment had been identified as flammable and initial appraisers were unable to check the material because of that fact.”

After the alarm was raised, agents scanned the container and found the temperature and pressure readings on the tank also didn’t correspond to R32 refrigerant. Authorities then tested a sample, which confirmed the presence of R22.

Illegal trade in ozone depleting substances is worth almost US$70m according to 2012 estimates.

Pakistani customs have confiscated the tank and authorities and further action is said to be pending.