The Environment Agency has prosecuted a Hampshire scrap metal business for waste offences following a number of complaints from the local community and for putting local groundwater at risk of pollution.
Dase Engineering Limited of Garfield Road, Bishops Waltham, Hampshire, appeared before Fareham Magistrates' Court on Thursday 13 June 2013. The company pleaded guilty to two offences and was fined a total of £20,000 (£10,000 for each offence), ordered to pay costs of £5,782 and £15 victim surcharge.
The Court heard that over the past three to five years, the Environment Agency had concerns about the way the site was being run following regular inspections. The Environment Agency had also received a number of complaints from local residents who expressed concern at the operations onsite.
Following a full audit of the site in September 2011, the company was served with an Enforcement Notice by the Environment Agency. This required Dase Engineering Limited to improve their onsite operations to ensure they complied with their permit.
The audit highlighted that there were issues with the storage of waste, particularly waste oil and fluids which had the potential to contaminate local groundwater. There were further issues with hazardous wastes being stored incorrectly on site, including waste car batteries, and also no facilities were available for dealing with explosive components such as car air bags.
The Enforcement Notice also required that the site's Working Plan be updated. This document sets out in detail the activities that are being carried out on site, the procedures for how these activities will be done to prevent pollution of the environment, and also procedures for emergency situations like fires or spills. The Working Plan should be available to all staff working on the site so that they know how the site operates to comply with its permit.
On 5 December 2011, officers returned to the site to see what progress had been made by the company. Some improvements had taken place as the premises was tidier and the number of waste tyres stored on site had decreased, but the site still fell below acceptable standards.
Commenting on the case, Dawn Theaker of the Environment Agency said:
"Despite numerous warnings and attempts to advise the company to clean up its act, it was disappointing that very little action took place to remedy the various serious issues at the site.In mitigation Dase Engineering Limited apologised, said the offences were not deliberate but negligent and the company had spent £15,000 on updating their Working Plan.
"It was very concerning that operations at the site were run in a way that did not protect the environment. I hope this prosecution sends out a clear message to other waste operators that we will not hesitate to prosecute them if they fail to comply with their permit and put the environment at risk."
Magistrates presiding over the case took into account the company's previous good operating history but said the offences were serious as it was a matter of public safety that groundwater was put at risk of contamination.