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UK: Environment Agency prosecutes for illegal disposal of 720 tonnes of Hazardous waste

Samples confirmed the presence of hazardous Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Coal Tar) within the waste

On Monday 10 Dec 2012, East Midlands Demolition Limited of Duffield Road, Little Eaton, Derby, was sentenced at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to charges relating to the illegal deposit of hazardous waste. The company pleaded guilty at an earlier Court hearing.

The company was fined £11,000.00 ordered to pay £4,398.92 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under Section 33 and 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Kiran Cassini told the Court that on 6 September 2010, the Environment Agency was made aware of noise and dust coming from a site owned by Evans Concrete Limited, Pye Bridge Industrial Estate, Alfreton. Officers attended and observed that the land on the site appeared to have been raised by approximately one metre. Officers spoke to the managing director of the company and he indicated that tarmac had been brought onto the site by East Midlands Demolition Ltd to create a hardstanding area for storage on the site.

Environment Agency officers checked waste transfer notes provided by Evans Concrete Limited and found that East Midlands Demolition Limited originally removed the waste from Cavendish Junior School on 10 and 11 August 2010. The waste was described as ‘tarmac’ and 720 tonnes of it had been imported onto the Evans Concrete Limited site.

It transpired that Derby City Council were resurfacing the playground at Cavendish Junior School and needed to dispose of waste tarmac. Initially one load was taken to a tip by a contractor but was rejected because it failed a test that indicated the presence coal tar. The presence of coal tar within the tarmac meant that it was classed as hazardous waste. It would have cost around £100,000 to legally dispose of the waste through the first contractor so Derby City Council contacted other contractors.

East Midlands Demolition Limited was approached and they indicated that they could recycle the coal tar contaminated tarmac for around £14,500 and so arrangements were made for them to carry out the removal. Derby City Council arranged for samples of the tarmac to be tested by a specialist firm. The samples confirmed the presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons within the waste that meant it was classed as hazardous. By the time the sample analysis had been published, East Midlands Demolition Limited had already removed the waste. However, East Midlands Demolition Limited had previously been made aware that the tarmac was contaminated with coal tar.

The waste was subsequently treated by specialist contractors, funded by East Midlands Demolition Limited and Derby City Council.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said:
“East Midlands Demolition Ltd should have known that the waste they were recycling was classed as hazardous. Their actions meant that another company, in this case Evans Concrete Limited, also fell foul of environmental legislation.”
In mitigation the Court was told that the Company did not appreciate that the presence of coal tar meant that the tarmac was hazardous. The price that they quoted was for the removal of ordinary tarmac. The company had since changed working practices to ensure that thorough checks were made before quotes for removal were given. The company had enjoyed a previous clean record and apologised to the Court for the part that they played in the incident.

In passing sentence the Court stated that the company had acted recklessly and that their actions had initially been prompted by financial motives. However, the Court acknowledged that the Company had incurred a greater sum in putting matters right. The Court took into account the Company’s previous good record, their cooperation with the Environment Agency and their early guilty plea.