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China's First Case of Illegal Use of ODS Sentenced to Criminal Punishment

【Date】2020-04-30【Source】MEE

Recently, China's first case of illegal use of ozone depleting substance (ODS) that constituted the crime of environmental pollution was sentenced to criminal punishment in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province. Qi, the legal representative of Huzhou Deqing Minghe Insulation Materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Minghe Company"), was sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment by the local court for the crime of environmental pollution due to Minghe Company's illegal use of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11, commonly known as Freon) in the production of pre-blended polyol.



From June to August 2019, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) launched a nationwide special ODS law enforcement operation and dispatched 11 working groups to carry out special inspections in key ODS provinces and municipalities. Through its sudden unannounced inspection in Minghe Company, Zhejiang Working Group found that there were abnormal records on the raw material warehousing entry in the corporate standing book, and the records of CFC-11 appeared repeatedly on some handwritten notes of production formula. However, Minghe Company's Environmental Impact Assessment documents approved in 2017 clearly specified that the company mainly uses polyol, HCFC-141b foaming agent and other raw materials in the production and sales of pre-blended polyol. The Bureau of Ecological and Environmental Enforcement of MEE immediately transferred the clues about Minghe Company's suspected illegal purchase of CFC-11 for the production of pre-blended polyol to the local authorities, and guided and coordinated them to handle the case on many occasions. The local government also attached great importance to the case, and immediately set up a task force and launched the joint case-handling mechanism; local public security bureau, people's procuratorate department and environmental department worked closely with one another to investigate and prosecute the case. With the full cooperation of all parties, the case-handling personnel overcame many difficulties and found out the criminal facts of Minghe Company's three-year illegal purchase and use of 849.5 tons of CFC-11 in the production of pre-blended polyol; 4 people including the upstream CFC-11 supplier Han were all arrested successively in Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong and other places.



At present, the sentence of the case was pronounced by the People's Court in Deqing County. Minghe Company was fined 700,000 RMB Yuan for environmental pollution caused by its illegal use of CFC-11, and illegal gains of more than 1.4 million RMB Yuan was recovered; its legal representative Qi was sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment for the crime of environmental pollution and was fined 50,000 RMB Yuan. It is the first case that was sentenced to substantial punishment for the illegal use of ODS in the domestic polyurethane foam industry sector to date, which fully reflects China's firm zero-tolerance attitude towards illegal activities related to ODS.

The Government of China has always attached great importance to the implementation of international environmental conventions and has taken strict law enforcement as an important guarantee to consolidate the achievements of convention implementation. In recent years, MEE has consistently carried out special ODS law enforcement inspections, which have firmly maintained the achievements of global ozone layer protection by cracking down on illegal activities and imposing high pressure and deterrence. In the future, MEE will, as always, crack down on illegal production, sales and use of ODS; consistently strengthen supervision and management; and give no tolerance to illegal activities related to ODS in the investigation and punishment.

 
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