African countries report growing incidences of illegal trade from the Gulf Coast

Mahe, Seychelles 23 June 2011- Some African countries have reported recent cases of illegal trade in Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) shipped from the Gulf Coast.

During a meeting arranged by the UNEP OzonAction Programme’s Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) through the Regional Office of Africa for 24 English speaking and Portuguese speaking countries participants were made aware of the ODS smuggling from presentations by delegates from Gambia and Sudan.

Most of the smuggling cases presented were attempted to be imported by mislabeling the chemicals as non-controlled commodities. The customs officers were able to seize the shipments since they have been provided with training, are aware of the relevant licensing systems and are equipped with ODS identifiers. It was reported that shipments of cylinders labeled as R-134a (a non-ozone depleting alterative) in fact contained CFC-12 and in some cases mixture of several gases also including HCFC.

It was reported that as a result of the training imparted through the training Centre for Sudanese Customs Administration (SCA) the customs authority was able to seize 6,400 (13.5 kg) cylinders of illegally imported ODS totaling 85 metric tonnes. In all cases these were mislabeled and or mis-declared on the documentation and were hence all but around 1000 cylinders were returned to the exporting country in the Gulf Coast. The remaining cylinders which were brought in to the country by smaller importers who were not able to arrange to return these remain a headache for the authorities since it incurs a cost for storage and could emit the contents to the atmosphere thus damaging the ozone layer.

Rajendra Shende head of UNEP DTIE’s OzonAction Branch informed the participating countries that: “the informal Prior Informed Consent mechanism (iPIC), where in the exporting and importing countries exchange the information before the consignments are shipped, would be an effective tool for the prevention of the illegal trade in ODS of this type”. “However in the case of transit shipments the issue needs to be resolved though dialogues and consultation” he continued.

Mr. Shende proposed to facilitate such a dialogue with the relevant countries in the West Asia region though OzonAction’s CAP programme in the West Asia and also to engage the Gulf Cooperation Council to explore the means to better develop collaborative approaches to combat ODS smuggling.

For further information:
Jérémy Boubié Bazyé  
Senior Regional Coordinator
UNEP Regional Office of Africa
Room X231
PO Box 30552
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7624281  
Fax: +254 20 7623165