The former director of a waste and recycling business has been sentenced to six years in prison for operating an unauthorised waste site that presented a risk to human health.
Nessa Thompson, former director of Scunthorpe-based Thompson Waste Recycling, was also disqualified from being a director of a company for seven years after pleading guilty to storing waste illegally in Winterton Road, Scunthorpe.
Hull Crown Court was told earlier this month that the business, which formerly held an O-licence authorising up to three vehicles and one trailer, continued storing waste at the site after it had its permit revoked due to it being placed in administration and, subsequently, liquidation.
Thompson had previous convictions for breaching environmental legislation and was under investigation by the Environment Agency at the time the offences were committed.
Large quantities of waste continued to be stored at the site after the liquidation and in such a manner that the Environment Agency believed it presented both a health and fire risk.
When a fire broke out at the site in May 2014, firefighters were told not to reuse the fire water due to the risk of waterborne diseases linked to rats. Two fires occurred on the premises. Efforts to prevent the fire spreading were hampered as the site did not have sufficient fire breaks, which caused greater impact to adjacent businesses.
Thompson pleaded guilty to breaching the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010. The court found that she had treated, stored and disposed of waste in a manner that would have likely caused pollution to the environment or harmed human health. It also concluded Thompson had consented to waste being deposited and processed at a site that did not have a permit.
The court gave Thompson credit for pleading guilty to the offences. It was also told her partner was in poor health and they were both suffering from significant financial issues.
The judge said Thompson, the technically competent manager for the site, would have been aware that no permit was in place. He said this meant she had deliberately disobeyed environmental regulations.
The judge also noted there had been attempts to conceal the illegal activity, and found that her previous convictions for environmental offences were a significant aggravating feature in the case.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “This prosecution demonstrates that we take cases such as this seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute if necessary.”