10-month sentence for director after blaze

7th April 2014

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  • Prosecution ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water ,
  • Waste



Arcwood Recycling in Ilkeston has been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500 for causing water discharge activity without the authorisation of an environmental permit

The company was also fined £42,000 for breaching fire safety regulations, while its director, Luke Barker, was sentenced to a 10-month custodial sentence and disqualified from being a director for eight years.

Derby Crown Court heard that Barker, who became director of A1 Wood Recycling in March 2012, changing the firm’s name to Arcwood Recycling in May 2012, had received several warnings from the Environment Agency about the timber-recycling yard. It had initially operated under an exemption, but received an environmental permit in January 2012.

Agency officers recorded concerns about the poor management systems at the site throughout 2012, highlighting in April, for example, that there was too much wood for the yard to operate properly as the different piles could not be separated effectively.

Between March and July 2012, Saint Gobain, the owners of the site, received numerous complaints about the amount of wood stored there.

On 15 September 2012, a fire broke at the site which firefighters were not able to put out until 28 September. As a result, firefighting water entered the Erewash Canal, affecting a 6km stretch of the canal and killing thousands of fish.

The agency spent a week elevating oxygen levels in the canal to an acceptable level and removing the dead fish. The operation cost £200,000. In addition, personnel from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service spent 4,678 hours at the scene, costing £107,000, and some nearby businesses were forced to close for up to two weeks.

Commenting after sentencing, the agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “We had spoken with the operators on a number of occasions, seeking action to address our concerns. By not taking our advice, there has been a significant impact on local wildlife, as well as the high costs of responding to the [fire] incident.”


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