AUSTRALIAN Border Force officers seized more than $200,000 worth of refrigeration equipment in a joint operation with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The equipment was imported without a licence.

According to a statement from DAWE, ABF officers seized 100 packages in Melbourne in May after a tip-off that the Victorian-based importer did not have the required licence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

The equipment was imported with certificates stating that refrigerant gas controlled under Section 13 of the Act had been removed from the equipment, allowing the items to be imported without a licence.

DAWE compliance officers, in conjunction with ABF officers, inspected the equipment and found that a significant portion still contained controlled hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant gases.

“The Australian government takes attempts to evade the import licensing requirements of the ozone protection laws very seriously,” DAWE’s statement said.

“Importers are reminded to ensure they have the correct import licences in place before attempting to bring these items into the country. Without the correct licenses it can be a costly mistake for importers.”

Import licensing requirements are in place under Australia’s laws to protect the ozone layer and climate systems.

In October 2020, a company was issued the largest ever fine by DAWE under Australia’s strict ozone protection laws, with a company ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 for contravention of Section 13(1) of the act. Contravention of this section of the act can result in civil penalties of up to $2.22 million.