Suspicious piles land rogue waste operator in court
A South Devon company has been ordered to pay more than £15,000 in fines and costs for storing construction waste, including asbestos roof tiles, at an unlicensed site.
Armabridge Ltd waste operates two businesses from separate sites in Torquay. They include a top soil supply business at Kerswell Garden Centre (Topsoil Torbay) and a waste transfer station and skip business at Barton Hill Way trading as Skip-it.
On 6th June 2014 Environment Agency officers found suspicious piles of waste at the Kerswell Garden Centre site. Samples of the fines were later analysed and found to contain hazardous materials including asbestos.
The managing director of Armabridge admitted tipping some of the screened waste, but disputed the suggestion his company was responsible for all of the illegal waste deposited. In an interview under caution he admitted using the Kerswell Gardens site to process waste to avoid landfill charges.
Samples taken by the Environment Agency from the site were found to contain elevated levels of antimony, sulphate, organic carbon and total dissolved solids at levels that would still have resulted in the waste being classified as non-inert, irrespective of the presence of asbestos.
Environment Agency officers estimated that approximately 2,600 tonnes of hazardous waste (due to the presence of asbestos) had been deposited at the Kerswell Garden Centre site that was only licensed to accept inert wastes.
Problems were also discovered at the company’s waste transfer station at Barton Hill Way earlier in 2014 where there was considered to be a risk of waste run-off entering surface water drainage systems and contaminating the surrounding environment.
Armabridge was told to address these problems but a follow-up inspection found no action was taken.
An enforcement notice was issued on 10th July 2014 but the site remained largely unchanged when it was next inspected in October 2014.
The Environment Agency prosecuted and Torquay magistrates fined Armabridge Ltd £6,000 and ordered it to pay £9,640.10 costs after it pleaded guilty to three offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (2010) and Environmental Protection Act (1990) including operating a regulated facility without permit and failing to comply with 2 enforcement notices.
Jacob Hess for the Environment Agency said: “In our opinion this defendant found a cheap way to dispose of waste, but in saving money the company failed to take the necessary steps to protect the environment. Although the asbestos was mainly in a bonded form, any movement or treatment of this waste without proper controls in place may have led to the release and spread of asbestos fibres putting the environment at further risk.
“Inadequate infrastructure and storage of waste at the waste transfer site meant that site operations posed an immediate risk to the local environment.”
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This article was published on 10 Feb 2016 (last updated on 10 Feb 2016).