JUNE 2008

UK waste company fined for dumping plastics in river

A UK waste company has been fined after illegally dumping waste on land at two sites in Devon. The case was brought by the UK Environment Agency.

In September 2005, agency officers visited a site at Cannington Mill in Devon and found wastes deposited in the floodplain of the River Dalch. Some of this waste included fines waste that contained small pieces of plastics, wood and foam mixed with soil. Samples were taken that indicated this waste should have been disposed of at a lined, household-type landfill.

Once this site was closed, the investigation revealed that the waste was then sent to another unsuitable site at Orchard Farm Landfill, Holmacott, North Devon. This landfill site is only able to accept inert wastes such as soil and stone. The origin of the waste from both sites was traced back to a waste transfer station operated by Oxy Limited.

The company, based in Barnstaple, Devon, holds a license for treating of waste at the Hacche Lane Waste Transfer Station in South Molton. The site accepts mixed household, commercial and industrial wastes, generally from skips collected in the North Devon Area. Recyclable items such as large rocks, metal and wood are initially separated and the remaining ‘light’ waste is passed through a shredding and screening process.

The smallest pieces of waste that are left after this process are known as ‘fines’. It is these fines that were sent to Cannington Mill and Orchard Farm inert landfill. Separate enforcement action has been taken against the operators of both of these sites.

When questioned, Oxy Limited said the ‘fines’ consisted of soil, sand and dirt from non-hazardous waste but there had been no analysis of the content.

Waste transfer notes showed 2,091 tons had been taken to Cannington Mill and 234 tons to Orchard Farm Landfill.