UK waste company fined for dumping plastics in river

A UK waste company has been ordered to pay GBP 29,000 in fines and costs after illegally dumping waste on land at two sites in Devon. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

Agency officers visited a site at Cannington Mill in Devon, in September 2005 and found wastes deposited in the floodplain of the River Dalch.  Some of this waste included fines waste that contained small pieces of plastics, wood and foam mixed with soil. Samples were taken that indicated this waste should have been disposed of at a lined household type landfill.

Once this site was closed the investigation revealed that the waste was then sent to another unsuitable site at Orchard Farm Landfill, Holmacott, North Devon. This landfill site is only able to accept inert wastes such as soil and stone. The origin of the waste from both sites was traced back to a waste transfer station operated by Oxy Limited.

The company, based in Barnstaple, Devon, hold a licence for treating of waste at the Hacche Lane Waste Transfer Station in South Molton. The site accepts mixed household, commercial and industrial wastes, generally from skips collected in the North Devon Area. Recyclable items such as large rocks, metal and wood are initially separated and the remaining ‘light’ waste is passed through a shredding and screening process.

The smallest pieces of waste that are left after this process are known as ‘fines’. It is these fines that were sent to Cannington Mill and Orchard Farm inert landfill. Separate enforcement action has been taken against the operators of both of these sites.

When questioned Oxy Limited said the ‘fines’ consisted of soil, sand and dirt from non hazardous skip waste but there had been no analysis of the content. Waste transfer notes showed 2,091 tones had been taken to Cannington Mill and 234 tonnes to Orchard Farm Landfill.

‘Oxy Limited have made considerable savings by sending this waste to these inert and exempt sites. It should have been disposed of at a fully contained landfill site,’ said Richard Cloke of the Environmental Crime Team. ‘This case highlights the need for companies and individuals involved in waste disposal to ensure they fully understand the nature of the waste they are dealing with and that it ends up at a suitable end site for disposal.’

Oxy Limited, of Grenville House, Boutport Street, Barnstaple, Devon, was today fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £15,873 costs at Exeter Crown Court after pleading guilty to two offences of depositing waste at Cannington Mill and Orchard Farm landfill contrary to Section 33 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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