Agents of the Nature Protection Service of the Civil Guard (Seprona) have uncovered the illegal activity of a company that was engaged in the smuggling of refrigerant gases that are prohibited due to their harmful effect on the ozone layer.
In the operation, which began at the end of 2017, the illegal export to Panama of some 10 tons of HCFC-22 (R-22) gas from its management as a hazardous waste, whose commercialization would have supposed an economic benefit of half a million to one million euros and the emission of almost 17,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
According to sources from the Civil Guard, the company under investigation, based in Valencia, was engaged in the commercialization and distribution of refrigerant gases and the irregular management of those that should be directly destined for their elimination through an authorized manager.
The inquiries were initiated as a result of the communications received from the General Subdirectorate for Environmental Quality of the Ministry of Ecological Transition (Miteco), which warned of an alleged export of R-22 refrigerant gas regenerated irregularly, to Panama.
In the investigations, in which the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Valencian Government have collaborated, it was discovered that this company had evaded its duty to inform the European Commission about the exports made, as well as gas storage and destruction or elimination of those subject to prohibition, which, on the contrary, were repackaged and exported as regenerated without the appropriate documentary record.
The operation, coordinated at international level by Europol, has resulted in the indictment of ten people linked to this illegal smuggling of substances that deplete the ozone layer.
Since 2010, the use and introduction into the market of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) has been banned and in January 2015, HCFCs in any of its states (pure, recycled or recycled) were banned in the territory of the European Union. regenerate).
These substances are not only ODS, but also associated with a Global Warming Potential (GWP or PCA), a parameter that represents the global warming of greenhouse gas with respect to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
In the case of R-22, the release of one kilogram of this gas is equivalent in terms of global warming to the emission of 1,700 kilograms of CO2, so that almost 10 tons of R-22 smuggled represent almost 17,000 tons of CO2 in Global Warming Potential.
The ozone layer protects life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation, so its decline is directly related, according to experts, with the increase of serious problems in the skin, in the eyesight or in the immune system, in addition to affect the quality of the water and the fertility of the earth.