£9k fine for illegal disposal of hazardous waste

7th October 2013



Diluting hazardous waste by mixing it with compost for spreading on farm land has led to two companies being fined a total of £9,000

The firms, Land Network and Lincoln Electric UK, will also have to pay costs totalling £30,000.

Lincoln magistrates’ court was told that Land Network, which operates a composting site near Gainsborough under both an environmental permit and an exemption from permitting, accepted hazardous waste from Sheffield-based Lincoln Electric UK between June 2009 and February 2010.

Lincoln Electric manufactures welding rods and wire, and the waste included drawing soap, which is used as a lubricant in making steel wire, and welding rod waste.

The drawing soap sent to Land Network was found to contain an illegal level of the hazardous ingredient calcium hydroxide, and, although the welding rod waste was not considered hazardous, it was not biodegradable.

Mark Harris, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said: “This case concerns the acceptance of a hazardous waste with the intention of diluting it by mixing with compost for spreading on agricultural land. Composting is not an appropriate method of treating hazardous waste.”

The composting business pleaded guilty to three charges, including failing to comply with the conditions of its permit for the Sturgate Airfield site, but in mitigation said it relied on others for advice before accepting the waste.

Lincoln Electric pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to prevent Land Network breaching its environmental permit. It too said it relied on others for advice.

Judge John Stobart concluded that both companies had either been misdirected or had misdirected themselves as to the status of the materials. “It was a potent mixture and fairly hazardous on any view,” he said.

Land Network was fined a total £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,500. A £1,000 penalty was imposed on Lincoln Electric, plus costs amounting to £12,500.

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