The defendant entity Deqing Minghe Thermal Insulation Materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Minghe Company") was established on March 8, 2017. It mainly engages in the production of polyurethane (PU) rigid foam composite polyether thermal insulation materials, and the wholesale and retail of PU thermal insulation materials, raw chemical materials (excluding hazardous chemicals and precursor chemicals), plastic materials and construction materials. The accused QI Erming is the company's legal representative. During the period from August 2017 to June 2019, knowing that trichlorofluoromethane is controlled ozone depleting substance (ODS) and that it is prohibited from being used in production, QI Erming still purchased it from others and used it in the production of PU rigid foam composite polyether thermal insulation materials in Minghe Company. During that period, Minghe Company purchased 849.5 tons of trichlorofluoromethane in total and discharged 3,049.7 kg trichlorofluoromethane waste gas in the course of production by using trichlorofluoromethane.
In the trial of the first instance, Deqing Primary People's Court, Zhejiang held that defendant entity Minghe Company used trichlorofluoromethane in its production of thermal insulation materials and sold such materials are in violation of the state regulations, which seriously polluted the environment. The acts of the defendant entity constituted the crime of environmental pollution. The accused QI Erming, as legal representative of the defendant entity, knowing that trichlorofluoromethane was prohibited from being used in production, voluntarily purchased it andit in the production of thermal insulation materials, and sold such materials causing serious environmental pollution. Thus, he should also be subject to criminal liability for the crime of environmental pollution. The court of first instance sentenced Minghe Company to a fine of 700,000 Yuan and sentenced QI Erming to a fixed-term imprisonment of ten months with a fine of 50,000 Yuan for committing the crime of environmental pollution.
This is China's first criminal case of environmental pollution caused by the illegal use of controlled ozone depleting substances (ODS), and also the first case where substantial punishments have been applied for illegal use of controlled ODS. As controlled ODS, trichlorofluoromethane (commonly known as "freon") is a hazardous substance that pollutes the air. As one of contracting states of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, China has always attached great importance to the performance of international environmental conventions. On September 27, 2010, China issued the "List of Controlled Ozone Depleting Substances in China", where as substance in the first category of CFCs, trichlorofluoromethane is completely prohibited. The trial and judgment of this case have expressly showed the attitude of "zero tolerance" of the Chinese courts in severely cracking down on ODS-related illegal activities, played good roles in punishing, warning and educating the relevant industries of PU foam and to the public, and demonstrated the accomplishment of judiciary in firmly upholding the achievements in the protection of global ozone layer and advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.