Industry Warned Over Counterfeit Refrigerants
The threat of counterfeit refrigerants is on the rise, with fake products now finding their way out of the Far East and into Europe, according to the BRA (British Refrigeration Association).
In a statement the BRA said: “At best, the counterfeit refrigerants found in the EC contain a mixture of illegal HCFC and CFC products; at worst they may contain methyl chloride, which has already had deadly consequences in the Reefer industry. Adulterated refrigerant has frequently caused poor equipment performance and mechanical breakdown.”
The announcement follows a serious of explosions across several continents last year, including incidents in Cat Lai, Vietnam, when container explosions resulted in two fatalities.
Richard Lawton, technical director at Cambridge Refrigeration Technology, which investigated the explosions, concluded that the cause of the incidents was most likely counterfeit refrigerant that contained methyl chloride, rather than pure HFC-134a.
Furthermore, the common thread to the incidents appears to that all containers passed through Cat Lai around the same time as the explosions occurred there.
British Refrigeration Association said that its members are increasingly concerned by the above counterfeit and adulterated products and are urging all users of refrigerant to check with their supplier for EU laboratory analysis results and/or proof of conformity.
The BRA added: “It is further noted that counterfeit refrigerants are often sold in cylinders that do not have the correct labeling regarding the supplying company or the contents of the cylinders. Where refrigerant users come across low-cost product and where the supplier and origin is not completely clear, the BRA recommends caution.”
“Additionally where offers include an exchange for cylinders not owned by the supplying company, users need to be aware that they will remain liable for cylinder charges including the cost of the cylinder if it is not returned to the original refrigerant supplier.”
DuPont Refrigerants recently succeeded in shutting down a suspected trader of counterfeit refrigerants in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a five-year saga.
The trader’s activities were far-reaching, with links to counterfeit refrigerant gases found in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
In late 2007, a suspected trader of counterfeit refrigerants was identified in a market survey. In 2008, purchases were made on behalf of DuPont in the UAE, and DuPont confirmed the goods as counterfeits.
The counterfeits were found in cylinders of R-22 refrigerant gas that were illegally branded with the DuPont Freon trademark in a warehouse operated by the trader.
DuPont filed complaints with law enforcement and police conducted a raid, seizing counterfeit refrigerant cylinders, machines, printing templates and counterfeit packaging for DuPont refrigerants.
In late 2009, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the owner, but he was not apprehended. In 2010 DuPont discovered that the warehouse had resumed counterfeiting operations. A second complaint was filed with police on behalf of DuPont and another refrigerant producer. A second raid yielded counterfeit cartons and containers with the DuPont name.
The warehouse was again sealed by police. The owner was then apprehended and sentenced to two years in prison for counterfeiting.