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Oct 24, 2012

Customs Officers stop ozone depleting products from hitting the market

The Department of the Environment teamed up with the UN Environment Program for a workshop on a subject that is not the exciting but is vital in the monitoring of substances that hazardous to the ozone. It is the third session with the Customs Department to sensitize them on the potential for the illegal trade of ozone depleting substances and endangered species as well as of hazardous chemicals. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Customs Officers are first to come in contact with anything being imported into Belize; that makes them vital in combating the illegal trade of ozone depleting substances. To ensure they are ready for the job, the Department of the Environment teamed up with the United Nations Environment Programme to train them to detect such chemicals.

 

Martin Algeria, Chief Environmental Officer

Martin Algeria

“Today and the next two days or three days we have a training seminar for key enforcement officers of Belize in relation to the potential illegal trade or addressing the potential illegal trade of ozone depleting substances. The ozone depleting substances is a chemical that is addressed under what we refer to as the Ozone Layer Protection Program under the Montreal Protocol. It’s an environmental convention addressing substances, chemicals that would or have been proven to affect the ozone layer.”

 

Donnalyn Charles, UNEP Regional Office, Latin America and the Caribbean

“We’re here for the next three days to train Customs enforcement officers and other stakeholders in assisting Belize with monitoring the importation and exportation of ozone depleting substances and the products or items that contain ozone depleting substances.”

 

Phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances or ODSs is a part of Belize’s responsibility as a party to the Montreal Protocol and the Customs Department has been actively involved.

 

Martin Alegria

“We have been implementing the Ozone Program in Belize since 1999-2000 so it’s a long term plan and we have sensitized Customs, Transport, Immigration, Police, the Belize Defence Force along these ten years or so of Ozone Program in Belize.”

 

Donnalyn Charles

Donnalyn Charles

“Belize has signed on to the Montreal Protocol and as a party to that Protocol, it has certain obligations or requirements. One obligation is to phase out the use of ozone depleting substances. We may be aware that CFCs – Choloforcarbons have already been phased out and now the second major group is hydro-choloforo carbons or HCFCs and technicians would call it R-22 for example.”

 

Chief Environmental Officer, Martine Alegria, says ODSs can be found in things we use every day like your refrigerator or vehicle as well as chemicals such as pesticides. Burning waste is also a source of concern in Belize.

 

Martin Alegria

“Most of them are pesticide related or agro-chemicals, but you also have other chemicals that are industrial based and one or two of the POPS, Persistent Organic Pollutants, are unintentionally produced. For example, you know we have a lot of plastics in terms of production of solid waste. Whenever you burn plastic you unintentionally, you could say, produce dioxins and furans, which are two POPS that are in the air and settled on land and water that you drink that are proven toxic and carcinogenic etcetera. And you know in Belize our Solid Waste Management as is today is more of an open dump scenario where to reduce pace, we burn regularly and that causes these releases of POPS. So we have been trying as you are aware I’m sure that the Solid Waste Management project or program has already started in developing an organized way on international levels to address solid waste management hopefully five years down the road.”

 

While potentially harmful, some of the chemicals are needed for development and are allowed to be imported. But the country adheres to an importation baseline approved by the Ozone Secretariat in Kenya.

 

Donnalyn Charles

“In addition to being able to identify the ODSs, Belize also has a group of importers that are allowed to bring in the refrigerants and every year Belize would issue a quota for importers so that they can bring in these substances. So Customs also would need to be aware of the legislation that allows ozone officers or the Ozone Unit to issue those quotas, to issue the licenses so that when the importer comes to the shipping yard or to the airport to collect his goods, he has the necessary license to collect the goods.”

 

Martin Alegria

“The key legitimate importers, they are the ones that would take care of business for us as you would see because it is in their best economic, commercial interest apart from the environment to relate to us information about potential illegal trade.”

 

Alegria says that with the potential for the start of oil refining in Belize, there may be other chemicals coming into the country that will have to be properly managed. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

In follow up to the workshop, more training sessions for Customs Officers as well as technicians will be held. 

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3 Responses for “Customs Officers stop ozone depleting products from hitting the market”

  1. ang says:

    when i saw the headlime i thought theyd confiscate n use products thselves lol

  2. Rod says:

    We don’t care about this what we care about is crime murders what is this useless pm and gov gonna do about crime this ya barrow need fu go guan judas barrow guan you are a total failure t your job. Come on channel 5 you need to do your job and demand results from this useless incompetent pm and gov you need to start doing your part get this pm and gov. To resign for impotence and corruption call them out.

  3. hmm says:

    Rod Your the Dumbest thing to come out of a womans womb! should other Govt agencies stop functioning because of crime. this project is not govt funded and while other agencies are not doin there job , others are. especially with the finance they receive from international organizations, crime is very high we all agree. but take out your political sabotage campaign and think clearly. channel 5 is doing their job, u should learn from them and start researching before you comment and have fool look stupid. DO you even know what impotence mean??????????????? I feel sorry fu u.

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