Hills Waste racks up another leachate fine

Wiltshire-based Hills Waste Solutions has been fined £20,000 after allowing landfill leachate to pollute a stream. It is the company’s second major fine within six months.

The company pleaded guilty before Swindon magistrates on 5 December to keeping controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution, contrary to section 33(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It was also made to pay £16,300 costs.

The incident occurred at Hills’ Chapel Farm landfill at Blunsdon, on the outskirts of Swindon. In July 2006, a member of the public phoned the Environment Agency about pollution in a tributary of the River Ray.

Agency officers visited the site and found a tear in the lining of a lagoon used to store leachate before treatment. Leachate is produced by waste degrading in landfills and can be toxic.

According to Hills, the plastic lining had recently undergone maintenance. But "a few" of the welds made to patch-up the liner had failed and up to 12 cubic metres of leachate had escaped.

The fine was Hills’ second of the year. In July, it was made to pay nearly £48,000 for persistently allowing high leachate levels to build up at another of its landfills (ENDS Report 403, p 65 ).

An incident at Chapel in May 2007 also resulted in Hills being fined £15,000 for failing to cover asbestos waste properly (ENDS Report 389, p 56 ).

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