14 December 2005

CFC equipment found in EU waste crackdown

INSPECTIONS of waste shipments at 17 European seaports has found a number of illegal consignments of refrigeration equipment containing CFCs.
During the investigation, a total of 3,000 documents were checked while 258 cargo-holds were physically inspected, 140 of which were waste, mainly shipments of municipal waste, electrical and electronic equipment and scrap metals. Sixty eight of these turned out to be illegal.

Amongst these illegal shipments were discarded refrigerator compressors containing CFCs bound for Pakistan, and waste CFC refrigerators intercepted in the Netherlands.

In accordance with international agreements, the illegal waste shipments were sent back to the country of origin. No illegal consignments of CFC-based equipment were detected at British ports.

Under EU law it is now illegal to export CFCs or products containing CFCs, unless the product can be converted for use with HCFCs or HFCs.

These most recent inspections were part of an on-going investigation into illegal shipments of hazardous waste by the EU's network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL).

During the seaport project, vehicles, ships and containers carrying (waste) materials and storage locations in port areas are inspected. Special attention is paid to the export of waste materials from the EU to countries not belonging to the OECD, such as a number of Asian and African countries. The export of waste materials to such countries is often prohibited, or is allowed only with the permission of the relevant authorities.

The first seaport project was conducted in 2003 and involved six countries. A portion of the inspected waste shipments turned out to be illegal, leading to the decision to conduct a subsequent project. In joint enforcement operations in 2004 and March of this year, a great number of shipments also proved to be illegal.

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