THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said environmental officers at the Port of Cebu blocked a shipment of refrigerant gas from China that is thought to be dangerous to the ozone layer.

The BoC said in a statement on Wednesday that 300 cylinders were found to contain Trifluoromethane, a greenhouse gas, which were shipped without benefit of an import clearance. The shipment arrived from China on May 11.

The Environmental Protection and Compliance Division (EPCD) of Cebu, acting on suspicion of probable violation, requested a pre-lodgment control order from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), which barred the shipment’s release.

The inspection was conducted by Customs Examiner Ronor N. Alinsug, alongside representatives from the EPCD, the Enforcement and Security Service, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, the X-Ray Inspection Project Team, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the EMB.

“Under (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)-EMB Memorandum Circular No. 2005-03, importation of alternatives to ozone-depleting substances such as Trifluoromethane must be covered with Pre-shipment Importation Clearance prior to its entry into the Philippine territory,” the BoC said.

District Collector Charlito Martin R. Mendoza subsequently ordered the shipment’s seizure, citing Section 117 of Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. Section 117 states that goods may only be imported after fully securing the necessary clearances. Section 1113 (F) and (L-5) also calls for such goods to be subject to seizure. — Tobias Jared Tomas