Three men who dumped hazardous waste and burned material at unlicensed sites across the north east have been prosecuted by the Environment Agency.
Brian Greenwood, 37, of Edendale Terrace in Horden, Ian Fenny, 41, of Kingfisher Close in Hartlepool, and Owen Hill, 43, of Bridge Street in Nottingham, were taken to court after an investigation revealed they were running three sites without an environmental permit.
Each was involved in a company called Greenwood Environmental (North East) Limited, based at The Old Brickworks in Stokesley.
In late 2009 and early 2010 the Environment Agency discovered bags labelled “hazardous material” and bales of assorted waste were being kept at the at Skippers Lane Industrial Estate in Middlesborough. Officers found evidence some waste had also been burned.
Further investigations revealed leaking drums of hazardous waste – containing a “mixture of liquids, solids, sludges” – were being stored at the Seaview Industrial Estate in Horden, County Durham.
Officers then found skips of timber, plastic and paper were being burned at The Old Brickworks, at Tame Bridge, Stokesley.
The three men pleaded guilty to waste crime offences at Teesside Crown Court on 25 June.
Greenwood admitted two charges of operating a waste facility without an environmental permit, and one charge over his responsibility as an officer of Greenwood Environmental.
Although he faces a possible jail term, sentencing was deferred for six months to give him time to clear up the Tame Bridge site.
Fenny and Hill both admitted operating a waste facility without an environmental permit. Fenny received a 12-month community order and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, in addition to paying £3,000 in legal costs. Hill was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work, plus £1,500 costs. Both must pay a victim surcharge of £15.
Senior environmental crime officer John Robertson said: “Waste operations like those involved in this case can potentially have a detrimental impact on the environment and properties located nearby. That’s why companies must by law only operate with the appropriate environmental permits in place.
“Brian Greenwood, Ian Fenny and Owen Hill were all made aware of their legal responsibilities but failed to comply. We hope the court’s judgement will send out a clear message to other businesses and individuals that illegal activities will not be tolerated.”
Agency officers also discovered drums of resin-contaminated rags that had been transferred to the Seaview site by a separate company, Mulberry Waste Ltd, based in Leyland, Lancashire.
The company was prosecuted for failing to ensure the waste had been transferred to an authorised site.
Mulberry Waste Ltd admitted a charge of failing to comply with its duty of care and was ordered to pay £4,000 in legal costs and £6,750 in compensation to Williams Environmental Ltd, which had incurred costs of removing the drums lawfully.
Robertson added: “In the case of Mulberry Waste Ltd, the sentence reflects the importance of ensuring that all aspects of their waste management operations are properly checked and documented.”