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Russian customs uncover hidden R22


RUSSIA: Customs officers at the port of Taganrog have intercepted over 4,000kg of R22 disguised as R134a.

During routine inspections earlier this month customs officers found 300 cylinders in boxes labelled as R134a. Further investigation revealed that the boxes actually contained cylinders marked as containing R22, a fact later confirmed in chemical tests. The import and export of R22 in Russia, although not yet completely banned, is restricted and subject to licensing.

Illegal imports of refrigerants from China via the bordering countries of Ukraine and Kazakhstan are a problem for Russia in its efforts to phase-out ozone-depleting substances as was reported on earlier this year.

INTERPOL involved in new manual for customs and police
Meanwhile, INTERPOL has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to produce a manual for police, customs and border security officers on methods commonly used by criminals to hide and smuggle illegal ODS. 

Robert van de Bogert, Head of the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate – Intelligence and Investigation Service insists that international co-ordination is needed. “Even 15 years after the introduction of the trade ban there still are illegal exports of CFCs,” he said.

The manual, entitled ‘Ozone Depleting Substances Smuggling and Concealment: Case Study Handbook’, is designed to strengthen the law enforcement response to the illegal trade in these chemicals.

The trade is fueled in part by the high cost of alternative chemicals, the continued use of equipment which uses ODS, and the price differential between ODS in industrialised and developing countries.

To produce the manual, INTERPOL gathered case studies from member countries detailing current methods they have found used by criminals for smuggling and concealing ODS. Case studies were submitted by 18 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, as well as UNEP and the World Customs Organization, highlighting the truly global scope of the problem.

“ODS smugglers are often inventive, ingenious and well connected, making it difficult for enforcement agencies to detect and seize illegal shipments of ODS,” said Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, head of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, OzonAction Branch. 

“It is only by remaining well informed, vigilant and cooperating at national and international levels that the scourge of ODS smuggling can be combated.”

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