Seizure of illegal refrigerant gases

Seizure of illegal refrigerant gases
(Credits: Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport)

One week of operations coordinated by Dutch authorities and supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and Europol has led to the seizure of at least 2,100 cylinders of illicit HFCs – hydrofluorocarbons– for an estimated value of over 10 million Euros. The illicit imports of these gases circumvent EU rules and can cause significant damages to climate. The Joint Inspection Week (JIW) was held from 20th to 25th September. The operations in 16 Countries aimed at finding possible illicit imports of F-gases in the EU and at identifying importers. Information was systematically shared through national borders, a fundamental element to fight trafficking of such international scope. During the JIW, almost 1,700 inspections were carried out and led to the seizure of at least overall 2,000 cylinders of fluorinated gases, 7 arrests and the notification of numerous administrative and penal offenses. The carbon footprint of such quantities of HFC amounts to about 142,000 tons of CO2.

The general manager of OLAF Ville Itälä stated: «Fighting the illicit trade of HFC is an active contribution to the environment protection and to the ambitious climatic targets of the EU in the ambit of the European Green Deal. OLAF has been active in the fight against the illicit imports of HFC since 2018 and we have made it one of our operational priorities. The cooperation with the national, European and international authorities is the successful key of our activities and the JIW is a good example of it: the results of the operation derive from the work in strict contact with Europol and the national authorities of 16 Countries».

The participating Countries are the following: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain. The JIW was coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of infrastructures and the management of water resources, in particular the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate /Intelligence and Investigation Service, ILT-IOD. OLAF and Europol provided their support during the whole operation. JIW was part of EMPACT (European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats), in the ambit of the Environmental Criminality priority.