A Stockton-on-Tees man has been fined a total of £4,800 after he admitted illegally storing thousands of litres of hazardous waste.
Glenn Walsh, aged 53, of Blue House Point Road, Portrack, admitted two offences of failing to comply with his environmental permit, one offence of storing controlled waste without a permit and one offence of failing to contain the waste.
Walsh appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court on 28 July and was fined £1,200 for each offence.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency and Walsh was also ordered to pay its full court costs of £6,065.95.
The court was told the defendant owns Stockton Industrial Services (SIS) Plastic Recyclers in Stockton which is permitted to accept and sort clean plastic containers, ready for processing elsewhere.
The permit doesn’t allow for the emptying and washing of containers, and any residue left in a container is classed as hazardous waste and cannot be accepted or stored on site.
Environment Agency solicitor Julie Fisher told the court that in September 2014 an officer was carrying out a routine inspection of the site when he saw a large number of square drums which are used in industry to transport liquid.
The containers were in an inaccessible location so the officer served a notice on Walsh forbidding him to move them and requiring him to make the area easier to inspect.
Magistrates heard that during the officer’s return visit, he saw a red curtain-sided trailer parked on a nearby side road. The trailer appeared to be carrying a heavy load and a dark liquid was dripping from the vehicle towards a surface water drain.
Enquiries revealed the trailer had been hired by Walsh, who when questioned, admitted he had panicked and tried to conceal the containers in the trailer.
Ms Fisher said that during interview with Walsh, officers estimated between 30 to 40,000 litres of hazardous liquid had been on the site. Tests showed the liquids to be mineral oil, edible oil and solvents. In court Walsh admitted 12,000 litres had been removed from the site.
She said that when Walsh was interviewed under caution by the Environment Agency, he admitted that sometimes the containers accepted on to his site had small amounts of liquid in them.
He told officers he had intended to dispose of the waste legally but never had the money to do it and over a period of 12 years, this waste had accumulated.
In mitigation, the court heard that Walsh had cooperated with the investigation and had since cleared his site of all hazardous waste material.
Magistrates told the defendant that there was a serious risk of harm if a fire had broken out due to the large amount of hazardous waste on his site.
Speaking after the court case, Environment Agency team leader Tristan Drought said:
We take waste crime extremely seriously. Our permits are in place to protect people and the environment, and the illegal storage of hazardous waste can have potentially devastating consequences.
We urge everyone to be on the alert for waste crime. If you suspect a business near you of illegally handling or storing waste then report it to us anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.