20 November 2006
Refrigerant producers call for tougher action over illegal imports
EUROPEAN refrigerant producers are urging authorities to crack down on the illegal import of ozone depleting CFCs, HCFCs and other fluorinated greenhouse gases.
The European Fluorocarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC), a body representing the chemical industry and refrigerant producers has highlighted the continued illegal importation of the banned gases.
While paying tribute to the actions taken by the European Commission and work of customs authorities both in Greece and in Poland which have resulted in the seizure of illegally imported material, the EFCTC maintains that numerous infringements are still common in other countries, especially Cyprus and the Baltic States.
In addition to the legal consequences, EFCTC raises concerns regarding the negative impact on the Montreal Protocol Regulations to protect the ozone layer.
The EFCTC is also concerned that not only are these imports made without licences, the quality of the imported products is also questioned and that the presence of impurities could pose significant safety and health risks.
'It is time for national authorities to take new actions to better apply the law in all countries,' said Tim Vink, vice-chairman of EFCTC. 'These imports do not just infringe EU law, they also constitute a serious threat to the safety of the personnel using the product in good faith.
'We urge the Commission and the member states to stay vigilant and to enforce the EU legislation vigorously,' added Vink. 'This is especially needed in view of the entry into force of the F-gas Regulation (842/2006) which prohibits the import of F-gases in disposable cylinders from July 4, 2007 onward.'
The EFCTC also urges end users to carefully examine the nature and the origin of the products they purchase, in particular the validity of the import licences.
Banned substances are often imported with inaccurate labelling, for instance R12 being labelled as R134a, an action which customs officials have difficulty in verifying.