Italian authorities, supported by OLAF, seize 3.7t of illicit refrigerants

A cargo coming to port of Livorno from China of nearly 3.7t of hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFC) and HCFC, was identified by the Italian customs authorities as suspicious and seized after information provided by OLAF confirmed its illicit nature.

Imports into the EU of HFC gases, widely used in refrigerated units, are subject to stern quotas, because of their heavy environmental footprint. The importer of the seized consignment had no right to fill any of these quotas. Furthermore, the gases were packaged in non-refillable cylinders, which since 2007 are banned to enter the EU.

According to OLAF, the environmental impact of the freight, had it reached the market, would have been roughly equivalent to the emissions produced by a car travelling for 35 million kilometres, around 6,800t of CO2.

We are happy that OLAF was able to support the Italian authorities in this successful operation, just as we did earlier in the year with our colleagues in the Netherlands and Romania, OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä commented noting that this is precisely the kind of cooperation that the office is working hard to establish with national authorities, not only in Europe but across the globe. Such cooperation is the key to defeating the smugglers and counterfeiters, and all the more important when it helps stop dangerous gases like HFCs causing irreparable damage to our environment, health and economy, he added.

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