‘Bonfire party’ was toxic

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Piles of waste were stored and then burnt at an illegal site close to the Norfolk to London railway line in Suffolk and today (Thursday 29 August) the man responsible was fined £28,000 by Norwich Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that Ian Dale Garnham (44) illegally stockpiled waste and then set fire to it at The Woodyard in Upper Rose Lane, Palgrave, Diss, between 3 and 6 November 2012, resulting in the fire brigade being called to the site.

Mr Andrew Logan, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said a white plume of smoke that smelt noxious and toxic lingered over the site and blew across the nearby railway line.

He said that on 6 November investigating officers found an ‘extensive area of the lower yard’ covered in smouldering waste that in some places was as high as 4 metres. They described there being about 30-40 loads of waste, varying in size.

Firewood merchant Garnham, who admitted burning waste in a manner likely to pollute the environment or harm human health, was also ordered to pay £5,799.95 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

“The uncontrolled burning of waste is likely to have polluted the air and contaminated the ground and was, in part, financially motivated and he failed to take our advice,” Mr Logan told the court.

He said items burnt in the fire included tyres. Tests showed that toxic fumes would have been emitted from the fire due to incomplete combustion.

“Concentrations of copper, lead and zinc in the ash were significantly higher than the background soil levels for England and Wales,” Mr Logan said.

Garnham told Environment Agency officers that he had held a bonfire party and 120 people attended, with the proceeds from the event going to charity. He also said that 90% of the waste burned was green waste which he had brought back to the yard for recycling.

After the hearing, Environment Officer Tom Pickover said: “There was no waste permit for this yard and burning waste is illegal. The effect of the fire was to release toxins into the air and the ground.

“Everyone who disposes of waste has a duty of care to ensure their waste is handled correctly.”

The bonfire was 116 metres long in diameter, and had a height of between 1 and 4 metres.

Garnham pleaded guilty to the following charge:

Between the 3 November 2012 and 6 November 2012 at The Woodyard, Upper Rose Lane, Palgrave, DISS, IP22 1AP you did dispose of controlled waste by burning in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

Contrary to Section 33(1)(c) and 33(6) Environmental Protection Act 1990

He also asked for the following to be taken into consideration;

On or before 3 November 2012 at The Woodyard, Upper Rose Lane, Palgrave, DISS, IP22 1AP you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storing and disposal of waste by burning, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the of the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010.

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