Hefty fine for switchgear importer

Tuesday, 09 July, 2024

Hefty fine for switchgear importer

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has issued fines totalling a record $465,480 to the Australian arm of a multinational company for importing electrical switchgear containing synthetic greenhouse gas without a licence.

Investigators from DCCEEW and the Australian Border Force (ABF) found that the imported equipment contained sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) — the most potent synthetic greenhouse gas. SF6 has traditionally been used in switchgear because of its strong insulating properties.

Departmental and ABF officers worked together to intercept the switchgear imports at every major port in Australia between September 2023 and March 2024. This resulted in the seizure of about $3 million worth of equipment containing an estimated 517 kg of SF6, which if released to the atmosphere would have a climate impact equivalent to running nearly 5000 cars for a year.

Under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and the Customs Act 1901, it is illegal to import equipment containing a scheduled substance like SF6 without a licence. Australia regulates the import and handling of these types of gases to minimise their risk to the atmosphere and to assist in the nation’s tracking and reporting of greenhouse gases by imposing reporting obligations on licence holders.

DCCEEW stated that it has increased its capacity to respond to breaches of Australia’s national environment laws and stands ready to take action against individuals and businesses that disregard them.

The department and the ABF routinely work closely together to prevent potentially dangerous consequences for Australia’s environment.

More information on Australia’s ozone protection laws is available at: https://www.dcceew.gov.a/environment/protection/ozone.

Image credit: iStock.com/artisteer

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