Press release

SITA fined over £110,000 for breaching permit at Surrey landfill

SITA, a recycling and resource management company are fined over £110,000 for breaching permit at Surrey landfill site

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SITA UK Ltd – a recycling and resource management company - has been fined a total of £110,000 by Redhill Magistrates Court on 13 January 2015 for breaching the conditions of its environmental permit and for failing to comply with an Enforcement Notice for its landfill site at Albury Landfill, Albury, Nr Guildford, Surrey.

SITA UK Ltd was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £8,832 in legal costs.

SITA UK Ltd had exceeded the landfill site’s leachate limit set out in its environmental permit which is granted by the Environment Agency. During 2013 there were 8 leachate wells that were non-compliant with the permit requirement of a maximum leachate level of 3 metres above the base.

Redhill Magistrates Court heard how the type of waste deposited at the Landfill will degrade and produce both gas and leachate. In order to reduce the risk of leachate escaping the site and polluting the groundwater, the Landfill is lined with an engineered system on the base consisting of clay overlain by a plastic liner. The clay extends across the base of each cell and up the side slope to a level of three metres above the base, with only the plastic liner rising higher.

The court heard how SITA UK Ltd had continued non-compliance of its leachate levels despite ongoing guidance and support from Environment Agency officers.

In 2013, Pollution Prevention and Control Officers made a number of visits to Albury Landfill to undertake monitoring, which confirmed that the leachate levels remained high.

Pollution Prevention and Control Officer Neil Martin said:

We always seek to work with companies to help them operate within the law and we could not have done more than in this case. Although prosecution is the last resort, SITA UK Ltd left us with no choice but to take the matter to the courts. This shows how seriously we take these matters and demonstrates that we will not allow the environment to be put at risk as a consequence of not complying with our environmental permits.

In February 2014, SITA UK Ltd came into compliance with their leachate levels by supplementing treatment through the on-site leachate treatment plant with tankering leachate off site for treatment elsewhere. The company is now continuing to focus on completing the capping and restoration of the landfill, which will help reduce the generation of leachate at the site.

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Notes to editors:

The Landfill comprises of a series of cells for the disposal of non-hazardous waste and is situated in a former sand quarry near Guildford, Surrey. The Landfill has progressively been filled with household, commercial and industrial waste since 1992. The Landfill is located in the Lower Greensand of the Folkestone and Hythe Beds which are aquifers. The Landfill has now ceased acceptance of waste for disposal and is undergoing final capping and restoration.

Environment Agency Guidance on monitoring of landfill sites states that landfill leachate is a potentially polluting liquid, which unless managed or treated, may cause harmful effects on the groundwater and surface water that surround a landfill site. In order to protect the environment, landfill sites have specific limits set on the level that leachate can reach.

Charges: Contrary to Regulation 38(1) (b) of the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2007.

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Published 14 January 2015