Auto mechanic fined for illegal R134a cylinders

A Victorian auto mechanic has been fined after it was discovered he possessed 26 illegal disposable cylinders of the synthetic greenhouse gas R134a.

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, inspectors executed a search warrant on the mechanic’s business in April this year. During the search, they identified and seized approximately $2,500 of R134a. This was forfeited to the Commonwealth for destruction.

The mechanic was issued with two infringement notices for possessing refrigerant without a permit and storing refrigerant in disposable cylinders. These are offences under regulations 112(2) and 136(1) of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. Disposable cylinders containing scheduled substances such as R134a are banned in Australia.

“The cylinders were originally designed to be used for servicing and commissioning of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment,” says the Department. “However, they cannot be refilled, which means a residual ‘heel’ of gas can remain in the containers. This remaining gas can enter the atmosphere once disposal of the cylinder occurs.”

R134a has a global warming potential of 1,430, meaning it traps 1,430 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. As such, it falls under the Department’s “priority compliance focus” on reducing emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases.

The mechanic has paid the infringement notices and has now obtained the appropriate permits to possess scheduled substances for use in refrigeration equipment.

For more information about the ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gas program, visit the Department’s website.

For more information about the refrigeration and air conditioning permit scheme, visit the Australian Refrigeration Council website.

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