Offences cost port firm £630,000

3rd February 2011

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Dredging toxic sediment illegally and dumping it in an area of outstanding natural beauty has cost A&P Ports and Properties a total of £630,000.

The company was developing Falmouth Marina in Cornwall, an £8.8 million project being built on the site of two former wharves.

At the start of the project, A&P Ports and Properties had insisted that there was no need to dredge the area, even though the seabed under the former wharves had not been dredged since 1938 and the silt contained poisonous heavy metals and toxins, including high levels of organotins such as tributyltin (TBT) and triphenyltin (TPT), which are historically used in anti-fouling paints for ships, and both of which are toxic to the marine environment.

Later, the firm discovered that dredging was necessary, with up to 9,700m3 of material needing to be removed. But, according to Andrew Oldfield, prosecuting, A&P Ports and Properties failed to make the discovery public, fearing it would result in costly disposal and a time-consuming environmental impact assessment.

It also failed to inform a contractor employed to demolish one of the wharves that the silt that had to be removed from beneath the structures was toxic.

The illegal removal of the sediment was only discovered when an inspector from the then Marine Fisheries Agency – now the Marine Management Organisation, which brought the prosecution – witnessed a digger lowering a bucket into the water to shift the silt.

A&P Ports and Properties pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.

Truro Crown Court fined the company £70,000, ordered it to pay costs of £160,000 and issued a £400,000 confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.


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