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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

16 November 1999



Australian Federal Police in Melbourne have seized a significant quantity of ozone depleting hydrochloroflurocarbon gas, alleged to have been illegally imported.

Federal Agents working in cooperation with Environment Australia seized 120 cylinders of a gas identified as FR-12 from the premises of a Thomastown company. The blended gas contains the ozone depleting substance HCFC-124.

The cylinders, each of which weighs 13 kilograms, were discovered on three pallets inside a warehouse. It is alleged the consignment was illegally imported and offered for sale.

According to Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill, Australia has taken a leading role in ozone protection and introduced strict conditions on the use of ozone depleting substances.

"Under the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to phase out ozone depleting substances, HCFCs are scheduled to be phased out completely by 2020. As part of this process we have tightened supply controls on the gas," Senator Hill said.

"Since 1996 the manufacture, import or export of HCFCs has been prohibited without a licence.

"As the ozone layer protects life on earth from the sun's harmful UV radiation, we must protect it for future generations."

The search of the Thomastown premises was conducted under a Warrant issued under Section 52(2) of the Commonwealth's Ozone Protection Act 1989.

The seized cylinders have been transported to a secure location where they will be held prior to the destruction of their contents.

Federal Agents say their investigations are continuing.

Media contacts:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Keith Livingston (AFP Public Affairs) 03 9607 7307
Note: Vision of the seized cylinders is available from AFP Public Affairs.

Commonwealth of Australia