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Fine for waste mix-up

A waste disposal company has been fined £25,000 after admitting misdescribing controlled waste being sent to landfill.

At Leeds Magistrates’ Court today UK Resource Management Limited (UKRM) pleaded guilty to two controlled waste offences relating to hazardous waste incorrectly recorded as food waste.

It was fined £25,000 for the first offence, with no separate penalty for the second. UKRM also was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £1,850.

The company, of Holden Close, Bolckow Industrial Estate, Middlesbrough, holds a waste management licence from the Environment Agency and among the substances it handled was waste from an electroplating business in County Durham, which contained zinc, chromium and iron.

This byproduct is normally treated on site by the electroplaters and compressed to form "cake", which in the waste industry means a solid waste form. Their machine had broken down, which was why they used UKRM to tanker the waste away and dispose of it properly.

The waste was to be taken to a site near Leeds for recycling and en route was taken to UKRM’s premises for analysis. The company’s transport manager was told by the waste broker that the waste was cake, from which he assumed it was bakery waste.

All waste has to be accompanied by a transfer note so it can be audited and disposed of safely. Codes on the transfer note define the waste’s origins and chemical content.

The waste consignment’s transfer note was altered to show it contained food waste, even though zinc and chromium were found during UKRM’s testing.

The load, which weighed almost 14 tonnes, was taken to the Leeds site, which queried the amended documentation. The site was not permitted to accept the type of waste that was deposited, but would have been allowed to accept the waste that was wrongly described.

Paul Harley, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court the company had failed to properly supervise employees and procedures, and had not made inquiries of the waste producer when queries were raised.

Another aggravating factor was that by its actions, UKRM had caused another company to breach its waste licence.

The bench said it was "pure luck" that there had been no significant impact and that the level of fine had been set to recognise the company’s previous convictions.

On Monday(20 April) the Environment Agency prosecuted the company at Teesside Magistrates’ Court for two controlled waste offences.

Teesside magistrates fined UKRM a total of £19,200 after it pleaded guilty to an offence of keeping controlled waste other than in accordance with a waste management licence, and also to failing to supply an accurate written description of the waste to the operator of the landfill it was sent to.

The Environment Agency also prosecuted the company for waste offences in 2004 and 2006, while the Health and Safety Executive prosecuted for two hazardous substance offences. The business had been fined each time.

UKRM was given credit for a guilty plea at the first opportunity and the magistrates accepted its mitigation that there was no measurable damage to the environment resulting from the deposit of the waste.

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