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Victorian company hit with HCFC fine

Authorities clamp down on illegal import and cylinder usage

A refrigeration specialist based in Victoria has been fined $A12,600 for importing HCFCs without the required permissions. 

The company, which imports, builds and supplies air-conditioning systems, was also fined for the use of illegal disposable refrigerant cylinders – a storage method that has been banned since 1995.

According to the statement issued by the government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the company was identified as using HCFC-22, also commonly known as R22. 

The refrigerant had been supplied by an overseas company to charge equipment that it had supplied to the Victoria-based company in an uncharged state.

While the company had a licence to import systems filled with permitted refrigerants, it did not have the controlled substance licence and quota compliance required to import bulk HCFCs. 

Its use of disposable storage cylinders was also not in compliance with the company’s Refrigerant Trading Authorisation (RTA) requirements. 

Disposable cylinders have long been banned, due to the “heel” of unexpendable gas left in the cylinder that can later be vented to atmosphere during disposal of the cylinder.

R22 is less harmful than the R12 it superseded, with an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of 0.055 instead of one and a global warming potential (GWP) of 1810 instead of 10,600.

However, it is still far more potent than alternatives such as R1234yf, which has an ODP of zero and a GWP of less than one.

Consequently, since 1 January 2020 – as part of an ongoing phase-down of HCFC usage – importers without an exemption cannot import equipment that uses HCFCs.