UK: Waste refrigerators bound for illegal export to Africa have been uncovered in a raid on a storage facility in Essex.
The raid on October 12, led by the Environment Agency, found the fridges amongst 1000s of pieces of waste equipment at Greenstore Ltd, a large storage facility at Baldwin’s Farm, Upminster, Essex. The Environment Agency had information to suggest that the site was being frequented by criminals to store Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE), and stolen goods prior to illegal export.
It is illegal to export hazardous waste such as WEEE to non-OECD countries. The maximum penalty for exporting waste illegally is an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence.
As well as the fridges, investigators also found waste computer and televisions, and stolen cable, vehicles and plant, including a machine stolen in December 2015. They also discovered more than 900 stolen gas bottles worth more than £50,000, some still containing gas, which are banned for export.
The Environment Agency was joined by police, immigration enforcement, Calor Gas, Synergy, Flow Gas, HMRC, NaVCIS, the Met and Essex Police stolen plant team, whilst London Fire Brigade and Essex Fire Brigade were also on hand to provide support and ensure safety of the site.
“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,” said the Environment Agency’s national intelligence manager Chris Smith, whose team led the operation. “Today’s action sends a strong message that we will track down those involved in illegal waste activity.”
Top: An aerial shot of the storage facility at Baldwin’s Farm, Essex