24 April 2012

Heatcraft Australia recalls units charged with counterfeit refrigerant

A MAJOR manufacturer and supplier of stationary refrigeration equipment in Australia has been hit by the counterfeit refrigerant scandal.
Heatcraft Australia has issued a recall of certain models of a Kirby brand packaged refrigeration unit supplied within Australia and suspected of being charged with the potentially dangerous counterfeit R134a refrigerant.

Few details are available at the moment as to the origin of the equipment, how it got into the units or how many units are affected but a cocktail including methyl chloride is thought to be involved.

The recall issued on April 17 states that the affected units could be charged with a refrigerant that is flammable and poisonous. The statement warns: 'If the counterfeit refrigerant is exposed to atmosphere there is a risk of fire through spontaneous ignition and a risk of exposure to hazardous fumes.'

Units affected are the Kirby 'Drop-in' refrigeration units KPC800-6, KPC1000-6, KPC1400-6, KPC1700-6, KSC2000-6, KSC2700-6, KSC3500-6, with serial numbers 1108xxxxxx to 1202xxxxxx. The units were sold between September 1 2011 and April 10 2012.

Heatcraft customers in Australia are advised to contact their supplier or Heatcraft directly to have the unit replaced. Under no circumstances, says the company, are the units to have the refrigerant replaced by a service technician whilst in-situ. The unit must be returned to Heatcraft intact and charged with its refrigerant. Australian customers are told to contact Heatcraft on 02 9774 7222 or by emailing to arrange for the unit to be replaced.

The recall announcement can be found here:

Heatcraft is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US manufacturer Lennox International and a global leader in commercial refrigeration serving over 70 countries. Heatcraft Australia employs over 400 people and boasts a distribution network of over 70 branch outlets across Australia and New Zealand.

A dangerous counterfeit refrigerant posing as R134a but actually including methyl chloride, R22 and other gases was implicated in the deaths of three people last year when refrigerated containers they were working on exploded. ACR News previously reported other incidences of the dangerous cocktail affecting the vehicle air conditioning industry around the world, mainly in the Far East but also in the Middle East and Greece.

At the end of February Russian customs officers in the port of St Petersburg found over 8 tonnes of the counterfeit R134a amongst a seizure of 19 tonnes of illegally imported ozone depleting refrigerants. The shipment originated from China.

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