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Users, producers subject to criminal liability, ministry asserts
China has launched a nationwide campaign against illegal use and production of ozone-depleting substances, also known as ODS, according to the country"s top environmental authority.
Those involved in these illegal activities will be subject to criminal liability, said the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
China has continued to make efforts to phase out ODS as required by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and a phaseout plan it drafted after the country joined the protocol in 1991, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
"ODS have always been a main target in the ministry"s regular law enforcement as China phased out ODS. The campaign this time exceeds many others for ODS in recent years in terms of its scale and range," the ministry said.
The campaign was launched on July 28. The ministry didn"t disclose how many law enforcement officers will be involved but said they would search for and crack down on illegal activities related to ODS－including the ozone-depleting chemical CFC-11, a chlorofluorocarbon often used as a refrigerant－in order to safeguard China"s achievements in fulfilling its commitments.
Inspections for ODS differ greatly from those for other pollutants, the ministry said. "For those ODS that have been phased out, we are not certain whether there are still such substances in the country or where they are," it said.
"Based on earlier law enforcement actions, even if few enterprises still take the risk of illegally producing ODS, they will do so secretly and their illegal activities will be very difficult to find," the statement said.
Such illegal activities will be investigated, it emphasized, and serious offenders will be prosecuted once found. It also vowed to "severely" punish offenders by law as always.
Inspectors will thoroughly check companies that use materials that might involve ODS, especially CFC-11, for signs that may help find illegal ODS producers.
Producers of polyurethane foam will be inspected. CFC-11 was used as foam-blowing agent before it was banned.
At a news conference on July 26, Liu Youbin, the ministry spokesman, reiterated the country"s zero-tolerance policy for the production and use of ODS, including CFC-11.
Since China joined the Montreal protocol, the country"s ODS reduction has accounted for about half the total by developing countries, Liu said.
The ozone layer helps shield the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.