‘Reckless’ waste firm fined for asbestos lapse

A Gloucestershire waste management firm has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost £1,600 after being caught storing asbestos in an unsafe manner.

At Cheltenham Magistrates Court on Friday, May 26 Smiths Gloucester Ltd of Moreton Valance entered a guilty plea to two charges of failing to handle and store asbestos correctly.

The Environment Agency brought the prosecution following repeated warnings and visits to the company’s facility in June last year.

During the inspection the officer found evidence that asbestos was not being stored and sealed in a lockable container, as required by the conditions of the licence.

Evidence was collected and they were issued with a site warning.

Environment Agency Officers visited the site on two further occasions in June and August 2005. On both inspections the officers found asbestos being stored in an unsafe manner.

Speaking after the case, Craig House, lead Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation said: “We issue waste management licences that authorise the keeping, treatment, or disposal of controlled waste.

“They ensure that waste management facilities do not pollute the environment, cause harm to human health or serious detriment to local amenities.

“We expect companies dealing with waste to maintain the highest operational standards and where companies fail to maintain these standards we will take necessary, firm action.”

In an interview, Smiths Ltd admitted that asbestos had not been stored as required by Waste Management Licence conditions on all occasions.

When handing down the fine in court on 26 May 2006, the magistrate said that management of the company had ‘acted recklessly’.

In mitigation, Erik Salomonson on behalf of Smiths said that this was a one-off incident due to the late delivery of a container capable of being kept closed when not in use.

Sam Bond

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