THE largest fine issued under Australia’s ozone protection laws has been handed down to a Victorian fire protection company for the unlawful importation of hydrofluorocarbon.

This followed a civil prosecution from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment in the Federal Court of Australia.

The business, formerly known as Fire Protection Technologies, was found to be in contravention of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500,000.

Environment minister Sussan Ley said the Department’s prosecution began in July 2019 after an investigation into the importing of bulk HFC without a controlled substances licence.

“During our investigation, department officers seized several one-tonne capacity cylinders containing HFC-227ea, a widely used extinguishing agent, from the company’s premises in Melbourne and Perth,” Ms Ley said.

“This amount of HFC had the potential to create emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 6600 cars or 2300 households. 

“The company was aware of their obligations and import licensing requirements but proceeded to import a significant quantity of HFC-227ea anyway.”

Ms Ley said the work of the Department showed this type of behaviour would not be tolerated.

HFC is a type of synthetic greenhouse gas which traps heat in the atmosphere and is measured by its global warming potential.

A priority compliance focus for the department is to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances.