WRG has become the first landfill company to be prosecuted for gas emission offences after it was ordered to pay £28,184 by magistrates.
The waste management company, which manages the Hermitage Landfill site near Newbury, Berkshire, pleaded guilty on two counts. These were, failing to comply with its permit by exceeding the allowed limits of landfill gas and CO2 and failing to follow the site management system for the site.
Newbury Magistrates’ Court ordered WRG to pay £20,000 in fines, £8,169 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
The incident happened in May 2008 when WRG was restoring the Hermitage Landfill site – which has not been in use since 2004 - for agricultural use and on-site buildings were being demolished. The power supply to certain areas of the site was switched off. This affected the gas flare alarm system, which is activated if there is a fault with the flare, which burns the gas and converts methane into CO2.
In June, WRG found a number of boreholes used to draw landfill gas out had exceeded their permitted levels for methane and CO2 but the alarm system had not alerted them to this for two days. This meant no gas was extracted, escaping into the atmosphere instead.
Between January and June 2008, it was found that WRG had not followed a number of maintenance procedures for the upkeep and monitoring of the gas collection system and gas flare.
The magistrates said: “We take environmental offences very seriously. We accept that there was no financial gain and that this incident was careless. However, the defendant is a large professional waste company and should have known its business. We recognise that the defendant has co-operated fully and have taken its mitigation into account.”
WRG has now rectified matters and conducted a review of management procedures at the site.