UK: Director Fined for Illegal Dumping of Toxic Silt in Falmouth Conservation Area
The director of a company contracted to carry out work on the development of a marina in Falmouth docks has been sentenced at Truro Crown Court for environmental offences leading to the illegal dumping of heavily contaminated silt in a Special Area of Conservation.
On Friday 17 February Peter Frampton, company director of Oil and Water Ltd (in administration), was found guilty by a jury at Truro Crown Court of connivance leading to the depositing of material at sea without a licence, contrary to sections 5(a), 9(1)(a) and 21 (6) of the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) 1985.
The Dorset-based waste management company was contracted by A & P Ports and Properties Ltd in 20071 to demolish the Kings Wharf in Falmouth docks and to remove the silt to a minimum of five metres below the lowest tide. Mr Frampton was charged with being in breach of his duty to supervise as a director of Oil and Water Ltd in that the offence was committed with his connivance.
During the course of the trial the court was shown videos taken by inspectors from the Marine and Fisheries Agency2 (MFA) in December 2007, which showed diggers mounted on a barge and using bucket attachments. These were used to dig into the seabed, lift the contaminated contents to just below the water surface, before rotating 90 degrees and unlawfully releasing the toxic sediment. The video showed a very large sediment cloud rising from the site of the disposal area.
Oil and Water Ltd’s site diary also recorded that in late 2007 they had “dredged where the wharf was” and “shuffled silt around”.
The MMO obtained approval from the High Court to go ahead with the case after Oil and Water Ltd entered administration during the course of the proceedings.
His Honour Judge Christopher Clark QC fined Oil and Water Ltd a nominal £100 (plus a £15 victim surcharge) due to the company being in administration, adding they would have been fined £20,000 if not in such situation. In addition Peter Frampton was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £44,150 plus a victim surcharge of £15.
His Honour Judge Clark QC said the case “revealed a public scandal that should be of great concern” adding that “if it wasn’t for the astute vigilance of Mr Daniel Poulding [of the Marine Management Organisation]” then the defendants “would have got away with” what was a “very serious matter.”
Danny Poulding from the Marine Management Organisation said:
“We are committed to bringing to justice those who act without appropriate concern for the marine environment. Mr Frampton admitted to us that he knew his company was moving this contaminated material, yet he continued to allow it to happen.
“This was a particularly important case as the toxic sediment concerned is some of the most damaging found anywhere within the British Isles. The method used to deposit it, as well as being unlicensed, was also the worst possible for marine life and was deposited in an environmentally sensitive area.
“Our timely intervention, we believe, prevented the company from carrying out the majority of the illegal dumping they had planned.”
Dredging Today Staff, March 4, 2012