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Forgotten’ asbestos lands company in a load of trouble

A 'forgotten' skipload of hazardous asbestos waste has landed a Hillingdon waste transfer station with a £3,442 bill.

Uxbridge Magistrates Court heard how Environment Agency officers discovered the skip on the premises of Bridgemarts Ltd on routine inspections at Hillingdon Waste Transfer Station, in Civic Way, South Ruislip.

The skip had been stored for nearly a month in an unlicensed area designed to hold only empty skips. During interview the company director said the skip, collected from a site in London SW19, should have been taken to a landfill site but it was closed due to high winds on Tuesday 16 January. It was brought back to their site for storage until the landfill reopened. However, a letter from the company contradicted this saying that the driver simply did not have time to take the skip to the landfill.

The skip of hazardous waste was brought on to the site, stored illegally and forgotten about until it was discovered on Friday 9 February by the Environment Agency officers.

On Tuesday 18 December Bridgemarts Ltd, who trade as Gowing and Pursey, pleaded guilty to keeping waste without a waste management licence and was fined £1,500. The company also pleaded guilty to contravening their waste management licence by storing the hazardous waste on the site and was fined a further £500. The company was also ordered to pay £1,442 costs.

The Environment Agency requires sites to store asbestos in a sealed container and on a concrete impermeable pavement. The asbestos should have been double wrapped in plastic and the container locked when not in use. None of these measures where in place.

Environment Officer Jackie Lawrence said: “Bridgemarts Ltd made a catalogue of errors that has seen them in court. They stored the waste illegally, failed in their duty to turn the waste away, failed to store it properly when it was on site and then failed to remove it.

“This situation was unacceptable as who knows how long an open skip containing asbestos would have remained unsecured if we had not found it on our routine inspections. There was no paperwork of its existence and it had simply been forgotten.

“I hope the court's punishment will make this company, and all businesses that deal with waste, take their responsibility to the environment and the public seriously.”

The skip was safely disposed of on Tuesday 13 February.

This case was brought under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.

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