Two men have been ordered to pay costs of more than £24,000 for illegally disposing of liquid waste from chemical toilets, abattoir washdowns and other sources in fields across Cornwall.
Neal Tremayne and Brian Matthews, who worked together, pleaded guilty to said environmental offenses which took place between the years 2010 and 2018.
Tremayne used his company, Carnon Valley Transport, to collect raw sewage, septic tank contents and other controlled waste from holiday and caravan parks, hotels, a farm, a slaughterhouse and a car dealership.
He then put this liquid waste into giant storage tanks owned by Matthews.
Matthews was paid a quarter of the going rate for legitimate disposal and he did so by injecting the mixture into the ground in farming locations he rented at Kehelland, Crosslanes, Sparnock and Mithian in West Cornwall .
Although injecting appropriate waste into fields is common practice on farms, raw sewage can carry potentially toxic elements – viruses, bacteria and pathogens like salmonella.
During the interview, Tremayne claimed he was cutting costs for his company’s customers by paying Matthews £27 to dispose of a 4,500 liter load of liquid waste – considerably less than the going rate £60 to £100 for proper disposal.
Matthews also admitted in the interview that he could only accept waste from septic tanks, but anything could have gone into the tanks at his sites.
Matthews had not put in place the appropriate measures to verify that only waste from septic tanks entered his pits, nor did he have the necessary environmental permits to screen and test the waste before storing it for landspreading. .
Over the two-year period studied by the Environment Agency, Matthews accepted around 73 million liters of liquid waste, equivalent to £432,000 in revenue.
Tremayne admitted to failing to provide customers with waste transfer notes indicating where the waste came from, how much, what it contained and where.
The waste transfer vouchers were produced by Tremayne for a client, a high-end automotive retailer. The memo said the car wash effluent was being sent to South West Water for disposal. In reality, it was given to Matthews for injection into the ground.
For culpability through negligence and environmental damage, Matthews was ordered to pay £136,674.50 under the Proceeds of Crime Act within three months or face imprisonment, a fine of £8,000 plus £10,000 costs at Truro Crown Court on April 14, 2022, bringing the long term case to a close.
Justice Carr called Matthews’ operation “terribly lax and insufficient”.
“It was effectively an open door policy for the waste drop off. No staff on site, no inspections, no verification of vouchers.
“It’s no surprise that Brian Matthews was able to charge far less for disposal and still run a profitable business, earning £1.3m between 2013 and 2019.”
For his reckless offence, Tremayne was ordered to pay £80,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act within three months or risk jail, given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, as well as fines for him and his business totaling £3,000 plus £3,450. in costs.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:
“When done correctly and with care, sludge from sewage treatment plants and septic tanks can provide appropriate nutrients to crops.
“However, if they are used as a cheap and unpleasant form of disposal to undermine competitive market, it is not only legitimate businesses that suffer, but also the environment.
“There are regulations in place to prevent toxic chemicals like these from polluting the environment and endangering human health. Ignorance of the rules is no defence.”