The most non-compliant sites in 2018

The Environment Agency (EA) recorded 14,109 permit breaches last year – 544 of them in just ten sites in England, according to data published last week.

1 Healthcare Environmental Services, Newcastle upon Tyne: 97 breaches

Top of the list of most non-compliant sites for 2018 is Healthcare Environmental Services’ clinical waste treatment facility in Newcastle upon Tyne. Its failures to abide by environmental permit conditions ran the gamut of emissions, amenity, management, infrastructure, record-keeping and permitted activities.

The firm was at the centre of a national scandal last year, when it was found to have stockpiled waste reputedly containing human body parts. A series of NHS trusts subsequently cancelled their contracts, leaving the firm to go bust. A waste management crisis followed.

2 Scunthorpe Iron & Steel Works: 89 breaches

An extensive series of breaches, largely concerning releases of unspecified pollutants, put British Steel’s Scunthorpe Plant into second place. It was also cited for failures of general management and infrastructure.

Its performance appears to be going backwards. A total of 78 breaches were recorded in 2017, more than any other facility that year.

Earlier this year, the financially-troubled firm came very close to falling foul of its obligations under the EU emissions trading system, which would have left it with a liability of around £500m. It was only saved when the government stepped in with a £120m loan.

As the firm is now in liquidation while a buyer is sought, a statement from the Official Receiver said: “British Steel has been actively implementing various initiatives, working with external bodies and investing significant sums to enhance their environmental performance. This includes improving air quality around the steelmaking site in Scunthorpe and capturing gasses from their coke making, ironmaking and steelmaking operations before cleaning them and distributing as an alternative fuel source.”

3 Ineos’ Seal Sands acrylonitrile plant, Middlesborough: 68 breaches

Ineos has long complained about the costs of compliance at its acrylonitrile manufacturing plant in Seal Sands. Rather than meet its obligations under an enforcement notice issued in 2014, it decided to shut it down a few weeks ago.

Its breaches were almost exclusively of emissions limits, although general management failures were also noted. The EA recorded 62 permit breaches at the plant in 2017.

4 Orange Skip Limited, Wolverhampton: 61 breaches

The skip hire business was cited for non-compliances concerning monitoring and record-keeping, infrastructure and general management.

5 Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd Normanton, West Yorkshire: 54 breaches

The Healthcare Environmental Services scandal related to more than one site: its waste treatment facility in West Yorkshire was found to have 54 permit breaches last year, on top of 13 recorded in Widnes.

6 Whites Recycling Ltd Mobile Plant: 42 breaches

Liquid waste management firm Whites Recycling found itself with a £24,000 bill from Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court last December. It had polluting a stream by spreading digestate on a waterlogged field.

Its 42 breaches of its mobile plant permit, appear to be related to the incident, though may be more extensive.

7 Aldridge Scrap Metal Limited Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire: 40 breaches

Little information is in the public domain about this company’s performance, other than it had failures of infrastructure, general management, emissions and permitted activity conditions last year.

8 Johnson Matthey Plc Brimsdown Precious Metal Recovery, Enfield, Middlesex: 38 breaches

Johnson Matthey recovers platinum, palladium and rhodium from spent catalytic converters at its plant in Enfield, using a reputedly low-emission process. However, emission breaches, alongside some related to management, infrastructure and incident management, were also recorded by the EA last year.

A spokesperson said: “Protection of health, safety, and the environment are of paramount importance to Johnson Matthey. We have already commenced a program of improvements to enhance our environmental controls and address any shortcomings.”

9 Enovert South Limited Barling Marsh Landfill, Great Wakering, Essex: 28 breaches

Landfill operator Enovert, which rebranded from Cory Environmental Resource Management last year, breached conditions on emissions, monitoring and infrastructure.

10 S & B Waste Management & Recycling Ltd Warley, West Midlands: 27 breaches

The West Midlands skip hire firm was cited for amenity, monitoring, general management and infrastructure failings.

ENDS has contacted the firms for comment.

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