On 4 June, the Wall Street Journal reported thatozone-depleting chemicals, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), are severely restricted by the EU, and US companies have invested heavily in cleaner formulas to win a greater share of Europe’s new market. However, HFC are still legally used across much of the globe, in cooling systems from car air-conditioners to store freezers, which means large volumes of trade worldwide. The price difference between sophisticated new EU-approved refrigerants and cheaper, abundant and generally interchangeable older formulas has sparked a black market and drawn smugglers, many from international crime syndicates. Illicit offerings can sell for around 25% less than regulated gas, distributors say. The article refers to several large seziures – 9 tons of HFC on a truck from Turkey on the Romanian border, Spanish police and customs officials raiding a secret warehouse near the city of Granada and impounding 19 ton, and in August, authorities in the Italian port of Livorno captured an illegal 3.7-ton shipment from China.
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