Contaminated waste was taken illegally to a farm for spreading on the land and yesterday the supplier Glazewing Ltd was fined £3,600.
Norwich Crown Court also ordered the company to pay full Environment Agency costs of £4,718.
Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Agency, said offences came to light when a member of the public complained that soil contaminated with plastics, insulation foam, metals, cables and household waste had been deposited on fields off West Dereham Road near Wretton in August 2013.
3,910 tonnes of soil had been taken by Glover Farming (West Dereham) Ltd and should have been of a quality to improve the land but instead it was ‘significantly contaminated’.
Officers investigated and found the waste had been spread on 5 fields. 4 have since been cleared and the waste sent to landfill. Waste from the 5th was taken back sometime later.
The court heard that Glazewing processes and sells scrap metal and has a small waste management division. Waste is put through a machine to separate out soil but if it is not clean enough it is sent to landfill. Glazewing Ltd operate a waste transfer station on Station Road in West Dereham under an environmental permit.
Mrs McDonald said the company had been reckless:
It failed to put in place and enforce systems to avoid an offence.
As a company working in the field of waste management it was fully aware of its duty of care. Basic visual checks of the waste ought to have resulted in it being stopped from being sent out at all.
Because the soil was not clean, the farm it was sent to was not permitted to take that type of waste.
Glazewing was guilty of failing to prevent the farm company committing an offence by taking the waste, failing to check they were authorize to carry it, and failing to describe the waste properly on waste transfer notes.
Mr Jonathan Miles, director of Glazewing, told investigating officers that the company accepted it had failed its duty of care. It had paid the farming company £3 per tonne to take the waste but admitted it would have cost it much more to dispose of it at a landfill site.
Defending Glazewing, Miss Sam Riggs told the court that the company could have taken the waste to its own landfill site free of charge and the transport costs would have been £3.12 per tonne.
Sentencing, Judge Stephen Holt said the company had been negligent but had considerable mitigation.
After the hearing Environment Agency officer Euan Simpson said:
The mis-description of waste is a high priority issue for the Environment Agency at the moment and this case highlights how important it is for waste operators to comply with the Duty of Care Regulations.
Waste management companies like Glazewing must ensure that they have all the necessary Duty of Care checks in place to avoid this sort of environmental incident occurring in the first place.
Published: 21 November 2014
From: Environment Agency