It prosecuted the company and its director for storing waste so high that it exceeded the site’s permit height restrictions by 6 metres.
Samantha Jones, Director of Connect Waste Management UK Limited which runs a regulated facility in Denver Site, Ferry Lane, Rainham, Essex, appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday 8 November 2016. Both the director and the company pleaded guilty. Ms. Jones was fined £2, 136 and ordered to pay costs of £4, 000. The company (which stores and treats general waste, waste wood and soils) was fined £6, 000 and ordered to pay costs of £8, 000.
The court heard how in November 2013 Environment Agency officers visited the Connect Waste Management UK Ltd site and discovered large amounts of unprocessed mixed waste overflowing out of the site’s shed. The waste filled the shed to the roof (approximately 10 metres high) and extended out into the front yard by approximately 30 metres.
Environment Agency lawyers told the court how the defendant has a management system in place, which helps manage an organisation’s significant environmental impacts from their activity. The management system in this case allows for the storage and treatment of waste by sorting, bailing, screening and shredding in a particular way that reduces environmental impacts.
Environment Officer, Holly Watson said:
It was clear from the site visit by Environment Agency officers that the company had breached its permit conditions and its management systems including, amongst other things, the height of waste stored which has the potential to ignite and cause terrible damage to the environment, as well as the health and safety of staff and nearby businesses.
Lawyers described how Connect Waste Management UK Ltd site comprises of a front yard which has been designated for the storage and processing of general waste where the height of the waste must not be more than 4 metres. The rear yard has been designated for the storage and processing of wood, hardcore and soil where the height of the waste must not be more than 4.5 metres. Connect Waste Management UK Ltd reached levels of 10 metres.
During routine inspections, Environment Agency officers provided advice and guidance to the defendant and issued a site warning for non-compliance. In April and May 2014, there were a number of occasions when reports of fires at the site were received. Environment Agency officers carried out further inspections and saw smoke produced by fire was leaving the site.
Holly Watson, Environment Officer added:
The site was full with more waste than on previous visits. Our officer informed the defendant of the potential for fire and the impact their activities were having on the neighbouring business. Officers also discovered that the site surface, which must be constructed of impermeable concrete, was badly damaged in some places which could be a major problem if there was a spillage of any polluting substances, as the site is very close to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the Rainham Brook. With compromised concrete there is a risk of the polluting substance getting into the groundwater and travelling to these sensitive receptors.