Convictions for top waste firms

Two of Britain's leading waste disposal businesses, Shanks & McEwan (SME) and Leigh Environmental, have been prosecuted successfully for contravening their permit conditions.

The case against SME (Southern) was brought by the London Waste Regulation Authority (LWRA). After a two-day hearing at Acton Magistrates Court in mid-April, the company was convicted of seven offences under section 3 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

All the offences occurred on 13 September 1990 at SME's transfer station in Acton, west London. The firm's licence requires the use of a sprinkler system to suppress dust when waste is being transferred and deposited at the site, but despite being warned on several occasions by the LWRA that it was breaching the condition the company failed to comply.

The company was charged with knowingly permitting the use of plant and equipment on the site while in breach of licence conditions and of the site working plan. It was fined £6,000, and ordered to pay costs of £2,386.

The convictions were not SME's first. In another case brought by the LWRA some three years ago, it was found guilty of several offences of depositing waste at a transfer station in South Ruislip which was not licensed to receive it.

SME's legal record is not as bad as that of Leigh Environmental, which clocked up another conviction in February. St Albans magistrates fined the company £1,500 for breaching a discharge consent limit at its waste treatment works at Redbournbury, Hertfordshire, last December.

The case was brought by Thames Water under the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937. It concerned a sample of effluent discharged into the water company's sewer which contained 15 times the permitted concentration of sulphate. The breach occurred during tank cleaning operations.

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