Tonnes of asbestos dumped across Home Counties

Grant Prior 10 years ago

Two waste operators running an illegal site and a driver have been given suspended prison sentences after they were caught fly-tipping tonnes of asbestos around Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent.

A1 Bins and Waste Ltd’s director David John Tuffen and manager Nigel Lee Hickman both pleaded guilty to running an illegal site at Towerfields Business Park in Benfleet, where Environment Agency officers found 72 large skips full of asbestos waste.

The driver, Moses Benjamin Brede, pleaded guilty to dumping five loads of waste asbestos.

Tuffen of Billericay was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work. Hickman of Port Talbot was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.

Brede of Stansead Abbots was sentenced to 12 months prison for each of five offences to run concurrently and suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay £500 contribution towards costs.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard at an earlier hearing that the company had been in financial difficulty towards the end of 2008. Waste asbestos was taken back to the Towerfields yard to bulk it up and store it there.

Tuffen and Hickman also pleaded guilty to failing to prevent the fly-tipping of waste asbestos on six occasions and asked the court to take into consideration a further seven asbestos dumping offences.

Tuffen, sole active director of the company, told investigating officers he had sold a vehicle, later seen fly-tipping asbestos, to Brede, who offered to do work for A1 Bins for a good rate.

Hickman, transport manager for the company, said they employed Brede when it was busy between February and May 2009.

A1 Bins advertised as a specialist asbestos waste transport and disposal company.

The firm supplied what appeared to be legitimate invoices and consignment notes showing that the hazardous waste had been taken to and signed for by the Oxfordshire landfill site.  These were false.

Sailesh Mehta, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that when officers visited the illegal site in May 2009 they found 72 skips, most of which contained waste asbestos.

Some asbestos was also on the ground. Samples taken showed that it included white, blue and brown asbestos.

Waste consignment notes were found in the office covering a period when no evidence could be confirmed of legitimate disposal of waste by A1 Bins.

Asbestos had, in fact, been dumped across the Home Counties.

In total the company cleared 361.7 tonnes of waste containing asbestos from the Towerfields site, at a cost of about £48,436.

Sentencing Judge Charles Gratwicke said: “Each of you has not paid the slightest regard for the regulations. You all flouted the law for financial gain putting public health at risk.”

After the hearing, the Environment Agency’s environmental crime team leader Lesley Robertson said: “This case was made worse by the hazardous nature of the waste, namely three types of asbestos, which was being illegally stored at the site in Benfleet, further aggravated by the fact that the company the defendants operated claimed to be ‘specialist contractors for the disposal of asbestos waste’, preying on others’ trustworthiness.”


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