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£50,000 fine for waste fridge offences

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On 11 August 2003, a Manchester company was fined a total of £52,500 and its director fined £15,000 by Oldham Magistrates for waste offences involving scrap refrigerators at sites in the Oldham area. Britannia Import and Export Limited, of Ledbury Road, Failsworth, and director Robert Bulcock, of Broad Lane, Rochdale, had pleaded guilty at a hearing on 14 July 2003. Britannia Import and Export Limited pleaded guilty to the following offences:

failing to comply with a condition of a waste management licence, contrary to s.33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 90): fined £12,500

failing to transfer the waste to an authorised person, contrary to s.34(1)(c)(i) and s.33(6) of the EPA 90: fined £12,500

failing to ensure that a waste transfer note was completed and signed on the company's behalf, contrary to s.34(6) of the EPA 90: fined £12,500

depositing controlled waste on land without a waste management licence, contrary to s.33(1)(a) and s.33(6) of the EPA 90: fined £15,000.

Robert Bulcock pleaded guilty to consenting or conniving in the company's offence of failing to comply with a condition of its waste management licence, contrary to s.33(6) of the EPA 90.

Britannia ran a business collecting, storing and scrapping discarded refrigerators. Fridges contain CFC gases that can damage the ozone layer, which must be removed before the fridges are broken up or incinerated. Although Britannia's Gould Street site in Oldham was licensed for storing and treating waste, it was unable to produce records showing where the waste gases had been sent. Waste transfer notes, legally required for the movement of waste between companies, were not completed properly or signed.

The company had committed a further offence at its Monarch Mill site in Royton, Oldham. About 3500 waste fridges were stored at the site, despite there being no waste management licence in force. A licence application for the site has since been submitted to the Agency by Britannia.

According to the Agency, by failing to have CFC gases properly disposed of, Britannia would have saved more than £15,000, and received about £87,000 for storing the waste fridges.

There is a duty to create, keep and provide waste transfer notes under the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991. Under s.157 of the EPA 90, where an offence committed by a company is proved to have been committed as a result of the consent or connivance or neglect by a director, manager, secretary, etc, he or she can also be found guilty of that offence.

Further information on this case is available at

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