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Crack-down on Chemicals Criminals in Asia Pacific Registers First Successes

Customs Officers Intercept Illegal Ozone Damaging Substances Under UNEP-Backed Project Skyhole Patching

Bangkok, 12 February 2007 – A new initiative to monitor and curb illegal trade in chemicals that damage the ozone layer-- the Earth’s protective shield-- has begun registering some of it first promising results.

Today it was announced that seizures of up to 64.8 tons of illegal ozone depleting substance (ODS) have been reported in China, India, Thailand and other countries following the start of Project Skyhole Patching.

China Customs seized nearly 8.2 tons of Dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12), used in refrigerant and air conditioning systems, in the Guandong Province between September and November 2006 – 752 kg in Shengzhen and 7.5 tons in Huanpu Port.

In West Bengal, India, customs and enforcement officials seized nearly 6 tons of illegal chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) between October and November 2006. Nearly 49 tones of illegal ODS were seized from other countries participating. More is expected to come.

“Months after he attended a workshop in Wuxi, China, a Chinese customs officer in Huanpu Port intercepted the illegal ODS using methods he learned there. It is encouraging to see that our training efforts, involving customs and enforcement officers in the 18 participating countries is beginning to have payoffs,” said Ms. Ludgarde Coppens, Policy and Enforcement Officer, UNEP.

Project Skyhole Patching, to combat illegal trade in ODS and hazardous waste in the Asia Pacific region began 1 September 2006. It involves 20 customs and environmental authorities from 18 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Maldives, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Since the project began, customs in Hong Kong, India and Thailand have played an active role in sharing information on ODS. Some countries like Viet Nam and Cambodia are holding bilateral discussions on illegal ODS trade.

“This timely information exchange among customs and environmental agencies in these countries has helped to monitor the movement of ODS in the region as well as other regions,” said Mr. Liu Xiaohui, Head of Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Project Sky Hole Patching is now entering its second phase, which will focus on hazardous waste and begin 1 March 2007. Phase 1 of the project focused on ODS.

CFCs are among ozone depleting substances targeted for phase out under the Montreal Protocol. Now entering its 20th year, the Montreal Protocol, one of the most successful environmental agreements to date, has succeeded in phasing out ODS in developed countries, led to the closure of many ODS producing plants and deterred the creation of industries that use them.

However, phase out of ODS becomes more crucial as the date for complete phaseout fast approaches for developing countries - 38 in Asia Pacific - who have committed to complete phaseout by 2010. Illegal trade in CFCs and other ODS is expected to grow as a complete ban is enforced. Studies indicate that trade in illegal ODS represents nearly 10-20% of all trade in ODS. CFCs alone account for 7,000-14000 tons of this trade, valued at US$25-60 million.

The 20th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol will be marked by a series of events and campaigns. This will include an Asia Pacific Regional Media Workshop to be held in Singapore in April this year, which will look at ozone layer protection and linkages to climate change.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Satwant Kur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP ROAP, Tel: 66 2288 2127

Fax: +66 (0) 2 2803829, Email: kaur@un.org

Mr. Atul Bagai, Regional Network Coordinator, South Asia, UNEP CAP, ROAP, Tel: 662 288 1662, Email: bagai@un.org

UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics’ OzonAction Programme: http://www.unep.fr/ozonaction/

Green Customs Initiative: http://www.greencustoms.org


For more information about the recovery of the ozone layer, see the Executive Summary of “UNEP/WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2006” and UNEP’s press release at http://ozone.unep.org/Publications/Assessment_Reports/

“Project Sky-Hole-Patching”

“Project Sky-Hole-Patching”, an operation on combating illegal trade in ODS and hazardous waste, was launched on 1 September. It was initiated by China Customs and coordinated by RILO A/P and UNEP ROAP and operated by related customs administrations and international organizations in the region. The project will establish a monitoring and notification system among member administrations. The aim is to keep track of the movement of suspicious shipments when they are imported, re-exported or transshipped across several Customs territories.


UNEP is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation with Kofi Annan quoted as saying it is "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

About the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) for Asia and the Pacific

In 2002, UNEP as an Implementing Agency of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol made a conscious departure from the past in assisting developing countries to enable them to implement the Montreal Protocol. This departure emerges from the new context in which developing countries now operate under the compliance regime of the Protocol. The new context of compliance regime requires countries to: achieve and sustain compliance, promote a greater sense of country ownership and implement the agreed Executive Committee framework for strategic planning.

In line with this re-orientation, UNEP proposed through the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) to begin moving from project management approach to a direct

implementation initiative through its specialized staff. Consistent with the above approach the Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (ROAP) CAP team has developed to be the centre for policy advice, compliance guidance and conduct training to refrigeration technicians, customs officers and other relevant stakeholders on compliance issues, promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation and promote high-level awareness by utilizing UNEP’s staff.




Further Resources

UNEP/WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2006
Executive Summary

Montreal Protocol

Ozone secretariat
UNEP Resource


Climate Change
UNEP Resource

Ozone-Friendly Inhalers for Consumers in South Asia
UNEP Press Release

2006 Antarctic Ozone Hole Largest on Record
UNEP Press Release

Reducing Children's Ozone-Related Health Risks
UNEP Press Release

Project Sky Hole Patching Goes into Operation
UNEP Press Release


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