Smuggling of chemicals rife

By Wellington Zimbowa
THE Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism And Hospitality Industry is working with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to address smuggling of harmful l chemical products that affect the environment while tightening legislations.
In his address to mark the World Ozone Day commemorations, minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, as we phase out the remaining Ozone Depleting Substances and introduce the ozone and climate-friendly ones, illegal trade in phased-out substances has increased across the globe. There is, therefore, need to train Customs Officers and equip them with skills, knowledge and tools to outwit this illegal Ozone Depleting Substances traders. Different smuggling schemes have been used to move banned Ozone Depleting Substances and contaminated refrigerants across the borders.
He also said that Zimbabwe is ratifying y the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations in line with latest developments under the Montreal Protocol to incorporate the control of trade in Hydro-Chlorofluorocarbons (HFCs).
These include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halon, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3), hydro Bromo fluorocarbons (HBFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and methyl bromide (CH3Br). The products are largely used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foams.
Ozone depletion refers to gradual thinning of earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere due to release of chemical compounds with gaseous chlorine or bromine from industry and other human activities.
As a result, the country has unveiled an environment-training programme for refrigeration technicians.
Zimbabwe is no exception to these smuggling schemes. My Ministry is working with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to train Customs Officers and equip them with tools and skills to combat illegal trade in Ozone Depleting Substances. A total of sixteen refrigerant identifiers were distributed to all major ports of entry to help in the detection of mislabeled or contaminated refrigerants.
“About twenty (20) training workshops on the safe use of hydrocarbon refrigerants have been conducted across the country and more than five hundred (500) refrigeration and air conditioning technicians have so far been trained. This has enabled our refrigeration and air conditioning technicians to be equipped with skills to work safely with ozone and climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants which are flammable if safety measures are not followed,” said the minister.
September 16 marks the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, which Zimbabwe is a signatory to.
Health effects include increased UV radiation levels at the Earth’s surface increases in skin cancers, eye cataracts and immune deficiency disorders.
Environmental effects include compromising of air quality and rainfall challenges.

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