Environment Agency takes action on fridge mountains

A UK fridge storage company has been warned to get its licence applications in order or face prosecution. The Environment Agency has served legal notices asking for additional information for the applications. Failure to supply the relevant information could mean a £5,000 fine.

Under Section 59 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Britannia Import Export Ltd has been served legal notices related to its waste storage sites. Around 150,000 waste fridges are being stored at the eight locations, pending treatment to remove chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) gases before the fridges can be disposed of.

Britannia has applied to the Environment Agency for the necessary site licences, but must now supply the Agency with additional information required before licence applications can be determined. Failure to do so will mean Britannia will have 60 days, until 4 November 2002, to clear all eight sites of waste fridges.

Failure to comply with a Section 59 notice could result in a fine of up to £5,000, plus an additional £500 for each day the offence continues after conviction.

“Serving these notices is a first step and the Environment Agency is keeping options open,” says Keith Ashcroft, the Agency’s Area Environment Protection Manager. “Whether we enforce them will depend on satisfactory progress being made by Britannia on its licence applications.” A spokesperson for Britannia told edie the company did not have a comment at the present time.

Since January 2002, under European regulation 2037/2000, no fridge can be disposed of without the prior removal of ozone depleting substances (ODS), such as CFCs. Due to a lack of processing plants, the UK has developed a backlog of fridges waiting to have their ODS removed (see related story).

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