More counterfeit Honeywell refrigerants found

Melting ice cubesSaudi Arabia authorities have seized nearly 3,500 cylinders of counterfeit refrigerant being fraudulently sold under the Honeywell Genetron brand name.

Honeywell said the operation was a joint effort between the company and local law enforcement. The counterfeit refrigerant was marked as Honeywell's Genetron 134a and was seized at Saudi Arabia's Dammam Port en route from China.

Fake refrigerants have been hitting the headlines over the last couple of years in the wake of a notorious incident in 2011 in which shipping line Maersk reported three cases in which refrigeration units had exploded for no apparent reason.

The explosions occurred on three separate occasions Brazil and Vietnam, with three fatalities resulting from the blasts. Subsequent investigations revealed that they were caused by contamination of a refrigerant gas called tetrafluoroethane-1,1,1,2 (R134a) with methyl chloride (R40).

The problem has affected all the leading refrigerant manufacturers, including not only Honeywell but also DuPont, Harp and Bock, with the Middle East said to have become a central hub for the distribution of fake products from China. Harp announced recently it had started adding holograms to its containers in an effort to deter the counterfeiters.

"We continue to take the necessary aggressive actions in cooperation with law enforcement and other government authorities to ensure that users get the high-quality product they need as well as ensuring its safety," said Paul Sanders, managing director for Honeywell Fluorine Products in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. "These efforts have resulted in seizures around the world."

Honeywell said it has intensified its anti-counterfeit efforts in the Middle East over the past two years. In 2011, the police, customs, local municipalities and other government officials resulted in the seizure of approximately 6,000 cylinders in the United Arab Emirates.

During the last two years alone, Honeywell says it has seized more than 200,000 counterfeit products in collaboration with authorities.

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