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Company fined over stream pollution

A recycling company and a director have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £33,000 after polluting watercourses and failing to notify the Environment Agency (EA).

The case against AWSM Recycling, of Hutton Magna, near Darlington, and sole director Adam Metcalfe involved incidents between July 2011 and October 2015.

The charges relate to the illegal spreading of hazardous material on land, unauthorised burning of waste and, by breaching permit conditions, allowing waste to escape into streams in three separate incidents.

The company and Metcalfe were sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on 19 June, having admitted offences at two previous hearings. Metcalfe was fined £1,000 and his company £20,000, with the company also ordered to pay £12,000 in court costs.

The EA set out three incidents:

  • A leak from a store of blood waste kept for land spreading, which resulted in a stream being affected, killing all invertebrates and fish for 1.2km downstream
  • Land spreading activities involving abattoir waste reduced oxygen levels in a stream
  • A concrete store which held waste beef blood was leaking into a drain and flowing into a stream, with water samples showing high ammonia concentration levels

The company also admitted failing to notify the EA about a pollution incident in relation to the third offence.

Metcalfe told the court that new procedures had since been put in place, with producers now asked to complete an audit form. 

He said he thought he had an exemption to cover the waste on his land. The first pollution incident was due to vandalism of his storage tank and, at first sight, he did not feel the incident was serious enough to report.

A mechanical failure of new equipment led to another pollution incident, he added.

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