Company fined for ‘reckless breach of law’ at borough waste site

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A DONCASTER firm which illegally stored waste including asbestos and oil has been fined £20,000 after a prosecution by the Environment Agency.

Grove Environmental Ltd, on Whitelea Grove Trading Estate, Mexborough, admitted three charges relating to illegally operating a waste site, including one charge of storing hazardous waste including asbestos and oils in a manner likely to cause pollution.

The firm was also ordered to pay costs of £11,000 to the Environment Agency which brought the case, on top of a payment of £5,000 already voluntarily made by the company.

Barry Berlin, for the Environment Agency, told the court the company committed deliberate breaches of environmental law for commercial advantage and that, as a result, it was able to undercut competitors in a savage market.

Passing sentence, District Judge Jonathan Bennett said the company had committed a reckless breach of the law.

He said the company had lucrative contracts and that the way they operated the site had created an ‘unfair market’.

The judge said the company had been given previous warnings and had failed to heed advice given about the running of the site.

The court heard Environment Agency officers visited the firm’s premises in August 2008 and found large amounts of waste being stored.

The company had an environmental permit but waste was being stored on parts of the site where it was not permitted and the site also contained types of waste which the company was not allowed to keep.

Asbestos, in the form of chrysotile white asbestos fibres, was also found at the site, along with crushed cement-bonded asbestos which was being stored illegally.

The court heard this not only put site employees at risk, but also endangered the environment officers who regulated it.

The officers also noticed pools of oil on soft ground and a large qunatity of electrical items which had recyclable components, for which a permit was needed.

In mitigation, the company blamed one of its directors and said a family illness had been responsible for a deterioration of the way the site was operated.

“It said the company had been restructured and the site put right.

Speaking after the case, Environment Agency officer Lindsey Jones, who investigated the case, said: “I’m delighted that the court has recognised the seriousness of these offences and has imposed a fine which recognises the risk not only to employees, but to people who do business with the site.”