A waste management company in the north-east has been ordered to pay £26,000 for breaching environmental laws which led to a fly infestation.
Niramax Group pleaded guilty at Teesside Crown Court to breaching its environmental permit, leading to a fly infestation at its site at Monument Park, Washington.
It also admitted failing to comply with an enforcement notice by not removing waste as required at its site at Tofts Farm in Hartlepool after large amounts of waste tyres (pictured) created a potential fire hazard.
The prosecution follows an investigation by the Environment Agency (EA). Niramax Group was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.
Lee Fish, prosecuting for the EA, told the court that a prearranged audit at the Washington site took place on 2 April 2015 where EA officers discovered a fly infestation.
Two of the bay doors to the waste shed were not operating satisfactorily, causing problems with pest control measures. Waste was not sufficiently divided between the four bays.
During a second visit on 9 April, the flies were still present both outside and inside the waste storage shed. Efforts had been made to empty the waste from the bays. A visit on 12 April saw the site and issues had been cleared.
EA officers spoke with neighbouring businesses and residents during its investigation, which confirmed the impact of the infestation.
At Hartlepool, where Niramax treats waste tyres, the EA originally attended the site in June 2015 after receiving complaints about dust.
On 28 July an action plan was signed by Niramax to resolve a number of permit breaches, which included a dust management plan and plans for the large amounts of waste tyres on-site to be stored within bays.
Niramax agreed to return the site to compliance by 30 November 2015. But in February 2016, when EA officers attended the site to assess its compliance, it found the site still operating as it was in June the previous year and the bays were still buried under piles of waste tyres.
An enforcement notice was served on the company to clear the site of tyres by 14 June, 2016. When the EA visited the site on 15 June the amount of shredded tyre waste had reduced but permit breaches were still evident – waste was not contained in the bays and no fire breaks were noted.
According to the EA, the site’s bays were capable of storing 1,490cu m and the contents were measured to be 2,462cu m.
The company told the court it had been caught out by an unseasonably sharp rise in temperature which meant that fly suppression methods at its Washington site proved inadequate.
At the tyre site, Niramax said it suffered when a fluctuation in the market made it more difficult to remove the shredded tyres from the site. The company said it had done everything in its power to comply with the enforcement notice.
Rachael Caldwell, enforcement team leader at the EA in the north-east, said: “At Hartlepool we gave Niramax ample opportunity to bring its site back into compliance, and at Washington we gave it five days to act on what was a serious fly infestation.
“But the company repeatedly showed little regard for the detrimental impact on their neighbours and the environment. And during our investigation it even described our actions – to protect the environment and the community – as ‘nit picking’.
“I hope this case reassures our communities that we will do everything possible to ensure operators comply with their permit, and take enforcement action when they do not.”
Niramax Group, between 1 April 2015 and 11 April 2015, at Monument Park, Washington, Tyne and Wear, failed to comply with condition 3.4 of Environmental permit EPR/MP3494VE in that your activities gave rise to the presence of pests, namely flies, which were likely to cause annoyance outside the boundary of the permitted site.
Contrary to Regulation 38(2) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and Section 2 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999.
Niramax Group, on 15 June 2016, at Tofts Farm in Hartlepool, failed to comply with the requirements of an Enforcement Notice in that you neither moved all of the waste stored on the site into secure bays that were constructed in compliance with Environmental Permit EAWML100138 nor removed the waste from the site by the date specified within the said notice.
Contrary to Regulation 38(3) of the Environmental permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and Section 2 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999.