The Environment Agency has reminded directors of companies that they should be aware of the correct way to run their sites to ensure they are not harming the environment or breaking the law. It has also warned them specifically that directors and managers of companies that fail to meet the obligations of their Waste Management Licence will be held responsible.

Two recent cases serve to highlight this message.

In the first, a skip hire company and its director who ignored warnings from the Environment Agency to legalise a waste site were convicted of 5 offences each of depositing, permitting, keeping and treating controlled waste without a Waste Management Licence or Environmental Permit. Caulfield and Son Limited was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay over £10,000 in compensation and costs. John Caulfield was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay compensation for his involvement as the sole director of the company.

Mr Caulfield said he was not aware of the need for the Waste Management Licence but ignored warnings from the Environment Agency to legalise the company’s waste site. Environment Agency officers gave evidence to the effect that they visited the company’s premises in January, August and October 2007 where they found stockpiles of controlled waste including construction and demolition waste, green waste, waste soils, scrap metal, wood, and general household waste such as a fridge and mattresses. The Environment Agency wrote to the company following each visit warning them that they were operating illegally and that they should stop operations and arrange for the waste to be moved to a suitably licensed facility. However, the company continued to operate and accept waste and two further visits in June and November 2008 found the site to be fully operational.

In the second, Christopher White, a director of Eurotech Waste Management Limited (now in liquidation), was convicted of causing by his consent and neglect seven counts of illegal waste activity by Eurotech on a site at The Enterprise Park, Newark. The company was principally involved with the treatment and transfer of waste electrical equipment contaminated with PCBs, which are required to be disposed of under strict guidelines. Their use is now banned. I transpired that the site was being operated in such a way that waste material, in particular PCB contaminated oil and other waste oils, was not being logged correctly and was being transferred on inadequate documentation by and to third parties who were not authorised to accept the material. In addition, storage containers were not properly cleaned and PCB contaminated waste oil was being stored and kept carelessly and being treated improperly outside of the licensed site.

Even though no provable harm had been caused to human health by virtue of his mismanagement of the company’s operations, Mr White was ordered to undertake 240 hours of unpaid work for the community and he was disqualified from being a Company Director or being involved in the management of a Company for a period of two years.