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F-Gas prosecution follows regulation breach

15 April 2016

A prosecution for failing to follow the F-Gas Regulations has been announced by the Environment Agency (EA).

It is believed to be the first of its kind since the regulations were updated at the beginning of last year.

Action taken against Schneider Electric resulted in the company being fined for failing to recover 15kg of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Basildon Magistrates' Court heard that the SF6 was released to the air from high-voltage switchgear being installed at London Gateway Port in Essex.

The court fined the company £3,000 with costs of £18,368.

Rooma Horeesorun, who led the EA prosecution, described SF6 as "highly potent" and said it would remain in the atmosphere for generations.

She further stated that the environmental damage was the equivalent of a 737 jet flying from Heathrow to Syndey and back three times over.

Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) technical director Tim Room described the incident as "disappointing", but said the industry has made good progress in F-gas recovery thanks to initiatives such as the Refcom mandatory refrigerant handling certification scheme.

"This episode reminds us of the importance of remaining vigilant," he continued, "and it is reassuring to see that the government agency charged with enforcing the F-Gas Regulations is able to follow up reports of wrongdoing with punitive action."

Another industry source told PFM that the fine did not reflect the serious nature of the incident, but that the addition of substantial costs would hopefully act as a deterrent for others.

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