WASHINGTON - The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, an industry coalition, commended the sentencing of a Florida man and a Florida corporation on charges related to smuggling 418,654 kilograms of HCFC-22 refrigerant with a market value of over $3.9 million. James Garrido was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and Kroy Corp. was sentenced to five years of probation. They must jointly pay $40,000 in fines and forfeit over $1.3 million to the United States.
“The U.S. government has done an excellent job of prosecuting and sentencing these defendants for smuggling HCFC-22, and they are ready to prosecute and fine anyone devising schemes to illegally import HCFCs,” said Dave Stirpe, executive director of the Alliance.
The Alliance cautioned the industry and the public to be certain that their HCFC-22 refrigerant purchases are legal, and to refuse to buy illegally imported refrigerants. The warning comes as reports are beginning to surface that illegal HCFC imports are on the rise.
HCFC-22 refrigerant may be legally produced domestically and imported into the United States provided that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-issued quota allowances are expended. Anyone importing HCFCs without legal allowances is in violation of federal law. HCFC-22 is generally used to service and maintain existing a/c and refrigeration equipment. Newly produced equipment generally relies on HFCs and other refrigerants.
“Purchasers of the illegal refrigerant are at risk,” noted Stirpe. “The government may confiscate any illegally imported refrigerant, even if it has been passed down through the marketplace, and prosecute purchasers who knowingly buy illegal material. Consumers should also be wary of the refrigerant since some of the imported material has been found to be of poor quality.”
Purchasers of imported HCFCs should verify that their importer is authorized to import HCFCs. Such importers would have been listed as having a baseline consumption allowance in the EPA HCFC Allocation Rule, or involved in a subsequent legal trade of consumption allowances. The recipient of a trade can show a letter from EPA acknowledging the approval of the trade. Purchasers who question the legitimacy of an HCFC importer should request a copy of the EPA approval letter from the seller. Importers of used HCFCs must obtain prior written approval from EPA and the government representing the country of origin. The provisions for the petition approval are also available from EPA.