A Victorian auto mechanic has been fined after it was discovered he possessed 26 illegal disposable cylinders of the synthetic greenhouse gas, HFC-134a.
Department of the Environment and Energy inspectors executed a search warrant on the mechanic’s business earlier this year.
During the search, inspectors identified and seized approximately $2500 of HFC-134a, which has been forfeited to the Commonwealth for destruction.
The mechanic was issued with two infringement notices for possessing refrigerant without a permit and storing refrigerant in disposable cylinders.
These are offences under regulations 112(2) and 136(1) of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. Disposable cylinders containing scheduled substances such as HFC-134a are banned in Australia.
The cylinders were originally designed to be used for servicing and commissioning of refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) equipment.
However, they cannot be refilled, which means a residual ‘heel’ of gas can remain in the containers. This remaining gas can enter the atmosphere once disposal of the cylinder occurs.
HFC-134a is a hydrofluorocarbon – a type of synthetic greenhouse gas - commonly used as a refrigerant in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, including in vehicles.
Synthetic greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, and HFC-134a has a global warming potential of 1430; meaning it traps 1430 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Australia is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as well as the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change.
A priority compliance focus for the Department is to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances.
The Department and the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) work to promote voluntary compliance with the regulations and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.
The council engages with businesses and technicians to assist them to understand and comply with their obligations. This includes holding required permits, meeting relevant conditions and not importing or using disposable cylinders for scheduled substances.
The mechanic has paid the infringement notices and has now obtained the appropriate permits to possess scheduled substances for use in refrigeration equipment.
Information about the ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gas program at: www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone.
For information about a RAC permit visit www.arctick.org.