Soria, Spain - 28 September 2016: The owner of a recycling company has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to the illegal handling of electronic and toxic waste and releasing ozone-depleting and global warming refrigerants into the atmosphere. The man was also ordered to pay a daily fee during an eight-month period and received a three-year ban from working in the recycling industry.
The sentence came about thanks to an investigation by the Environmental Protection Unit of the Civil Guards (SEPRONA) – previously recognised by UN Environment with an award.
The illegal activity had been taking place since July 2013. As a result of the investigation, 600 electronic items including 203 refrigerators were confiscated at the demand of the specialized Public Prosecutor. The investigation also found that over 40 kg of mercury compounds had been dumped into the soil, and that the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants R11 and R12 had been released into the atmosphere, accounting for at least 331 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Other toxic substances such as lead, cadmium and zinc were also found on the company’s premises.
In January 2015, the representative of the Public Prosecutor´s Office for the Protection of the Environment in Soria discovered significant amounts of electronic waste, along with other toxic substances, on the premises of the recycling company, near Soria. SEPRONA discovered that the company was only authorized to recycle non-dangerous waste, not electronic or toxic waste. Scientific support for the investigation was provided by the technical unit of the Public Prosecutor´s Office.
This decision by Soria’s Criminal Court is the most recent in a series of similar decisions by Spanish Courts on the illegal release of CFCs into the atmosphere. In October 2016, the Public Prosecutor´s Office submitted another case to the Court in Madrid, in which 60 kg of hydrochloroflurocarbon R22 – another ozone-depleting and global warming refrigerant – had been offered for sale online. A one and a half year prison sentence and a daily fee during an 18-month period were demanded.
Earlier this year, the Public Prosecutor Office for the Protection of the Environment and SEPRONA received UN Environment’s Ozone Protection Award for Customs & Enforcement Officers for their commitment and persistence in combating environmental crime. It is the second time that they received this award.
UNEP issued the OzoNews for September 2016, which can be downloaded here.
UNEP issued the new report as part of UN Environment's work programme under the CCAC: “National Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Inventories: A summary of key findings from the first tranche of studies.” Duncan Brack of IGSD was the lead author and the project was coordinated by OzonAction Paris. The CCAC Secretariat did the layout, printing and dissemination.
The report summarizes the findings of HFC use from the first six completed HFC inventories - Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria - all UNDP-assisted countries. This report includes preliminary results from Kyrgyzstan (UN Environment-assisted), Vietnam, Moldova and Sri Lanka.
Key findings from the 6 completed inventories: All countries are expecting continued increase of HFC consumption in the coming years as ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are phased out. Based on the HFC use in the 6 countries, the average annual growth of HFC consumption was 16 per cent. Out of the different chemicals, HFC-134a is the most common, accounting for an average of 80 per cent of HFC use from 2011-2014 across the six countries. However, by 2020, R-401A, R404A and R-507A will have an increasingly larger share of the total.
The CCAC is organizing a side event at MOP-28 on Friday 14-October (room MH4, 1:15 PM) and those of you who will be in Kigali are encouraged to participate.
In the darkness high above
where no one resides, not even a single dove,
a thin layer exists of rare molecules
protecting life and all of world’s ridicules.
It is the essence of life,
resembling an exhale after a dive.
A security blanket of the past, present and future -
one which makes a vital suture.
It knows of no boundaries or cultures
having succumbed to the potent, chemical vultures.
Humanity has awakened and come to its senses
the Montreal Protocol uniting all countries’ dances.
The sun rises and sets -
generations should pay no debts.
A continuous world effort to heal and restore
the only ozone layer - a universal, crown jewel.
Natasha Kochova, NOU Macedonia
(September 16, 2016 – International Day for the Protection of the Ozone Layer)