Redhill Magistrates Court yesterday (13 January 2015) fined the company for breaching the conditions of its environmental permit and for failing to comply with an Enforcement Notice for its landfill site at Albury Landfill, Albury, Nr Guildford, Surrey.
During 2013 there were eight leachate wells that were non-compliant with the permit requirement of a maximum leachate level of three metres above the base.
The Court heard how the type of waste deposited at the landfill will degrade and produce both gas and leachate. In order to reduce the risk of leachate escaping the site and polluting the groundwater, the landfill is lined with an engineered system on the base consisting of clay overlain by a plastic liner.
Neil Martin, EA – “We always seek to work with companies to help them operate within the law. Although prosecution is the last resort, SITA UK Ltd left us with no choice but to take the matter to the courts”
The clay extends across the base of each cell and up the side slope to a level of three metres above the base, with only the plastic liner rising higher.
The court heard how SITA had continued non-compliance of its leachate levels despite ongoing guidance and support from Environment Agency officers.
In 2013, Pollution Prevention and Control Officers made a number of visits to Albury landfill to undertake monitoring, which confirmed that the leachate levels remained high.
Pollution Prevention and Control Officer Neil Martin said: “We always seek to work with companies to help them operate within the law. Although prosecution is the last resort, SITA UK Ltd left us with no choice but to take the matter to the courts.
“This shows how seriously we take these matters and demonstrates that we will not allow the environment to be put at risk as a consequence of not complying with our environmental permits.”
In February 2014, SITA UK Ltd came into compliance with their leachate levels by supplementing treatment through the on-site leachate treatment plant with tankering leachate off site for treatment elsewhere.
The EA says the company is now continuing to focus on completing the capping and restoration of the landfill, which will help reduce the generation of leachate at the site.