A gang of four waste bosses were successfully prosecuted by the Environment Agency for illegally storing tonnes of dangerous chemical waste, some of which ended up fly tipped across the North of England.
During sentencing Her Honour Judge Badley said that all four defendants were “Persistent in the pursuit of profit, increasingly bold and acted outside the regulations clearly for financial motives”.
Discovery of hazardous chemical waste illegally dumped in roadside laybys across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Shropshire, prompted a nationwide investigation by the Environment Agency, code name Operation Pandora.
Preston Crown Court heard how this led to raids across Lancashire and the discovery of 6 illegal waste sites across Lancashire being operated by defendants.
- At one site almost 100 chemical drums had been discarded which were filled with substances including acids, pharmaceutical vials and crushed tablets.
- One container was discovered marked ‘Very water reactive – explosive on contact with water’ which was being stored under a leaking roof.
- EA staff located eleven 1000 litre intermediate bulk containers marked as containing ‘carcinogenic contents’ within 125 metres of the River Ribble Estuary which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) which had been stored illegally by Christian Briely.
- The serious environmental risk posed by the waste was evident in an incident at industrial units in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, where drums leaking hazardous liquids polluted the River Tawd.
- Full breathing apparatus and protective suits had to be worn by staff from the Environment Agency and the Fire and Rescue Service to safely recover, inspect and store the chemical drums.
During the forensic examination of drums the Environment Agency recovered clues which helped with the investigation. The EA also made a public appeal for information to help track down those responsible. As a result, the four were arrested and charged with a total of 22 offences.
The three company bosses and haulage contractor were sentenced on Tuesday 10th of April:
- Husband, Christian Garry BRIELY, 43, from Bolton was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for 8 waste offences, while his wife, Deborah Lynne BRIELY, 47, from Bolton was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months with 120 hours unpaid work for 3 waste offences
- Christopher HILL, 50, from Hartlepool was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months with 120 hours unpaid work for 4 waste offences
- Roger Martin BAMBER, 50, from Lancashire was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work for 8 waste offences
Louis Hunt, Senior Investigations Manager from the Environment Agency National Environmental Crime Team, said:
‘This nationwide investigation has been complex and involved working with the public and authorities across the UK to bring those responsible to justice.
‘We were able to use forensic techniques to identify the abandoned waste and trace those who had managed waste that had been illegally dumped. If we had not acted quickly then this gang would have continued to dispose of this toxic and hazardous waste across England in a highly dangerous manner, posing a significant risk to the public and the environment.’
Environment Agency Head of Illegal’s and Waste, Mat Crocker said: ‘This sentence sends out the message that waste crime is a serious offence. Offenders can and will be sent to jail.’
‘Waste crime puts the environment and human health at risk and undermines legitimate businesses. In this instance, the waste originated from businesses that paid a commercial rate for the disposal and as such, believed it was being disposed of responsibly. Businesses producing toxic and hazardous waste need to take extra care to ensure their waste is not being dumped illegally.’
- Photos of the dumped waste are available on Flickr
- The toxic waste came from a variety of waste reprocessors including a wheel stripping company (acids), pharmaceutical vials (glass medicine bottles), oil sludge (shredded oilf filters), waste inks and waste products from large scale photo processing companies. The waste was collected from as far afield as Bradford, Milton Keynes, Huddersfield and Preston.
- The discovery of abandoned waste in lay bys initiated the investigation into how these bosses had mishandled waste, BUT didn’t form part of the final case.
- Company names – Brielys’ company was TWMS, based in the Wirral, Merseyside; Bamber – R+S Bamber Haulage, Twin Lakes, West Lancs; Hill – Orion UK Ltd, Roman Way Industrial Estate, Preston .