Director jailed for filling quarry with dangerous waste

28th May 2021

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Barry Kilby

A director who allowed thousands of tonnes of waste to be illegally deposited in a former quarry has been jailed for more than two years.

Mark Foley of Cardiff was jailed for illegally disposing of 100,000 tonnes of waste at Stowey Quarry, a former limestone quarry near Chew Valley reservoir. The offence happened within the first nine months of 2016, leading to an investigation by the Environment Agency.

Bristol Crown Court described the illegal operation, which accepted waste from around England, as one of the country’s most serious risks of harm of the past 30 years. Foley was jailed for a further 18 weeks, served concurrently, for supplying false information to the Agency.

Trading as M E Foley (Contractors) Ltd, Foley operated the quarry under an environmental permit, which was only to accept non-hazardous material, such as soil and construction waste, in order to build bunds and embankments. He was responsible for checking the waste to make sure it was inert, but flouted the rules.

After repeated warnings, the Agency served his firm with a suspension notice that cancelled its permit and stopped the site from operating in October 2016.

The Agency said that samples taken from trial pits and boreholes revealed a high percentage of chopped and shredded plastics, metals, foam and other man-made materials. About half the samples were hazardous and either carcinogenic or harmful to the environment. The investigation included the monitoring of landfill gases and sampling of nearby streams, which showed an elevated concentration of gases, together with leachate breaking out onto the surfaces of some surrounding fields’.

Foley also lied about the amount of waste received. After checking waste transfer notes provided by waste producers and hauliers, it was estimated that in 2016 alone, almost 95,000 tonnes of waste was deposited – double the 44,950 tonnes Foley declared.

Foley pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Environmental Protection

Act 1990, and ME Foley (Contractors) pleaded guilty to one breach of the Act. Foley was jailed for two years and three months, and the firm was fined £72,000.

Image credit: Alamy

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