Small firms and waste: an industry underwritten by the public purse

A stockpile of chemical waste at a defunct waste site in Swansea is costing the Environment Agency £200,000 to sort out. Another small firm is in financial trouble in Wrexham where it has amassed a stock which may cost £500,000 to dispose of. In both cases, the Agency has inherited a situation in which site licences and plans fail to control waste stocks or treatment processes with any clarity - pointing to an urgent need to review old licences. But without powers to demand financial provisions from such sites, they will continue to pose liabilities to the public purse. And, because of loopholes, even the transfrontier shipment of waste regime has failed to provide the financial guarantees it was intended to bring.

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