20 October 2016 by Will Date

WEEE and gas bottles discovered in Agency export raid

A cross-agency raid led by the Environment Agency at a storage site in Essex has uncovered waste items including gas bottles, fridges, PCs and televisions bound for illegal export, the Agency has claimed.

Environment Agency officers raided a site in Essex last week

Environment Agency officers raided a site in Essex last week

The raid, which took place last week (12 October) saw Agency officers open storage containers at a company named by the Agency using storage at Baldwin’s Farm in Upminster. The site is described by the Agency as a large storage facility where shipping containers are rented out to individuals and companies for storage.

According to the Environment Agency intelligence had been received to suggest that the site was being used to store Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) prior to illegal export.

The Agency has not named any of the companies or individuals alleged to have been involved in the practice. letsrecycle.com has contacted the company believed to be involved for comment but has yet to receive a response from the company.

After having opened the containers, Environment Agency officers found a large store of WEEE including broken fridges, computers and televisions, which it had claimed were bound for export to Africa – where it is illegal to send non-working electrical items.

Gas

Officers also uncovered more than 900 gas bottles, worth more than £50,000, some still containing gas which are banned for export as they remain the property of the brand owner.

Other containers also housed stolen cable, vehicles and plant, including a machine stolen in December 2015 which was one of only 50 in the world, the Agency said.

An aerial image of the Baldwin's Farm site

An aerial image of the Baldwin’s Farm site

The Environment Agency was joined by Police, Immigration Enforcement, Calor Gas, Synergy, Flow Gas, HMRC, the Vehicle Crime Intelligence Police Service (NaVCIS), the Met and Essex Police stolen plant team, whilst London Fire Brigade and Essex Fire Brigade also supported the raid.

Chris Smith, National Intelligence Manager, whose team led the operation for the Environment Agency, said: “The sheer volume of material that we and our partner organisations found today and prevented from being exported illegally is a big win, but the battle isn’t over. Today’s action sends a strong message that we will track down those involved in illegal waste activity.

“The effects of exporting waste illegally is harmful to the environment and the economy. It undercuts legitimate businesses and causes harm to human health and the environment in destination countries where it is often burnt in open fires to recover precious metals.”


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