Scrap metal firm landed with £7,000 bill

A FIRM dealing in scrap metal has been landed with a £7,000 bill for operating a waste metal facility without a permit.

Meadowbank Special Steels (Commodities) Limited, of Harrison Street, Holmes, were fined by magistrates after inspectors from the Environment Agency repeatedly uncovered hazardous materials stored illegally at the site.

Leaking oil barrels and computer monitors were among the items stored by the firm without the proper drainage or sealed containers demanded by health and safety laws.

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Environment Agency officials twice issued the firm with exemptions from permitting regulations to allow them time to clean up their act but finally took the matter to court after almost two years of rule breaking.

Last Thursday Meadowbank Special Steels was ordered to pay a £3,000 fine and £4,000 in court costs.

Environment officer Lindsey Jones said: “Environmental permits are there to protect the environment, and we take cases where businesses operate without them very seriously.

“We always aim to prosecute when a company or individual puts its local environment at risk.”

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Rotherham Magistrate’s Court heard that the company had been operating on its site since 2008, when it was granted an exemption to the Environment Permitting Regulations which allowed it to store and process metal on only a small part of its site.

Elena Elia, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that during a routine visit to the site in August 2009, environment officers found that the drainage was unsuitable, that metal was being stored outside of the agreed area and that waste other than metal was being kept at the site.

The officers gave the company two weeks to fix the problems.

But visits in September, October and November 2009, revealed the company had not fully complied with the instructions, so its exemption was revoked.

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At a visit in January 2010 Environment Agency officers found that the company had cleared some areas of the site that had concerned inspectors, but had not cleared piles of waste from the rest of the site.

They found 20 one-tonne bags of metal waste stored on unsealed concrete, no bunding to contain contaminated water and evidence of fluid leaking from the waste metal into an unsealed drainage system.

The firm were also dipping metal in an alkaline solution in a cleaning process which required a bespoke permit which it did not hold.

Part of the site was eventually cleared by March 26, 2010, and the company was issued with a new exemption.

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On May 28 last year, however, officers found that areas of the site still not covered by exemptions or permits were being used to store metal, skips full of waste, computer monitors and leaking oil drums.

In mitigation the company said it will be spending £300,000 improvements to the site and that they will work with the Environment Agency in future.

They said lessons had been learnt, there had been no financial gain and they will pay for a permit.

They have received no complaints from the public about their operation.

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