Firms fined for using contaminated soil

PUBLISHED: 09:59 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:13 07 July 2010

Motor-racing fans at the Snetterton circuit could have been exposed to potentially carcinogenic material if remedial work had not been taken to avert a public hazard, magistrates said yesterday.

Motor-racing fans at the Snetterton circuit could have been exposed to potentially carcinogenic material if remedial work had not been taken to avert a public hazard, magistrates said yesterday.

Haulage company Rory J Holbrook and remedial and groundworks firm Frankis Solutions were ordered to pay £23,034 between them in fines and costs after admitting transferring and depositing contami-nated soil from a former gasworks at Attleborough to the race circuit near Thetford at the end of 2006.

Presiding magistrate at Swaffham, Jean Bonnick, said the transfer of the inappropriate waste was caused by poor housekeeping and a lack of procedures in handling the waste.

The court heard that the defendants had been involved in two incidents which involved the transport of material from the gasworks site to Snetterton where the building contractors were looking to build an earth mound or bund to the north of the circuit.

In one incident on October 5, 2006, it is believed that five lorry-loads of non-hazardous material which were supposed to be sent to the BIFFA waste site at Attlebridge ended up “in error” at Snetterton.

Neither side could be held responsible for the incident because the mix-up could not be clearly tracked down to either defendant.

In a separate incident on November 22, 2006, another five lorry-loads of material were transported from the same gasworks site to Snetterton.

Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, said the material destined for the race circuit had been deposited in a “lagoon” at the former gasworks site.

The Environment Agency said the lagoon had been previously contaminated with coal tar.

Coal-tar products are classed as potentially carcinogenic material.

“Although there was no evidence of actual environmental impact or harm to human health, the deposit of a potentially carcinogenic substance in a bund designed for use by spectators could result in harm to human health,” said Mrs McDonald.

She said an Environment Agency chemist analysed samples from the site and found that at least four would be classified as hazardous waste because of the concentration of the coal tar or coal-tar product present. “Fortunately. the material has been removed from the site,” she told the court.

Magistrates heard that it took 15 loads to remove the waste off the site.

Speaking in mitigation for Frankis Solutions, Thomas Cross admitted a “callous mistake” may have been committed by a small number of employees at the Chelmsford-based company.

However he said: “The manager [dealing with the transport of material] has been disciplined and retrained and lessons have been learnt from the incident.”

Tim Ridyard, defending Rory J Holbrook, said the company was a “proactive” operator which took immediate steps to ensure the material was correctly isolated.

Frankis Solutions, of Chelmsford, the supplier of the waste, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and Rory J Holbrook, of Attleborough, who took the waste to Snetterton, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £3,034 costs.

Rory J Holbrook had also asked the court to take into account an offence of taking five loads of non-permitted waste to Snetterton Racing Circuit on October 5, 2006.

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