Waste crime, and a deserving penalty!

Three men and a company charged with a series of illegal waste offences have been sentenced for carrying out multi-million pound illegal waste operations at two sites in Neath.

Dennis Brian Connor of The Barn, Pantlasau, Morriston, Howard Geary Rees of Rheola House, Resolven, and Eurid Huw Leyshon, of Pentwyn Farm, Skewen, were between them given a total of 52 months suspended prison sentences, 280 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay back over £353,000 within three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Connor’s company, DBC Site Services 2005 Ltd, was also ordered to pay a further £75,411. Swansea Crown Court heard that the four defendants criminally benefitted by nearly £5m between them, in avoided legitimate costs.

The sentencing is the culmination of a four-year complex and thorough investigation carried out by Natural Resources Wales. The case had taken two years progressing through Court, due in part to Covid delays.

Dennis Connor had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of consenting or conniving in offences by his company, DBC Site Services 2005 Ltd, in which he knowingly allowed the disposal of controlled waste without an environmental permit at the two sites.

Connor was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, plus 100 hours community service on Friday, 19 November, 2021.

At the Old Rheola Aluminium Works site, many huge piles of waste were found to have been recently tipped on the ground. These piles consisted of different types of waste, including rotting household waste clearly from the Swansea and Carmarthen areas, finely shredded plastics, and coarsely shredded oily vehicle parts.

An electromagnetic geophysical survey was commissioned at the Rheola site by NRW, which confirmed the surveillance observations that waste had been buried. NRW then excavated trial pits, or trenches, to expose this waste. Considerable volumes of wastes were discovered buried up to four metres deep. Amongst this were large volumes of municipal wastes from Swansea, oily scrapyard waste, and hazardous clinical waste.

The clinical waste was traced by investigators to an NHS hospital trust in South East Wales, and it contained syringes with needles still attached, and shredded orange infectious waste bags. This waste was classified as hazardous and can only be legitimately disposed of by high temperature incineration. The hospital trust had passed the waste to another company for legal disposal in good faith, was horrified to hear of the discovery, and cooperated fully with the NRW’s investigators.

Some of the buried waste also contained asbestos, and the court heard that this and the hazardous clinical waste substances posed a risk to human health and the environment.

Well, it serves them right. Well done, Natural Resources, Wales.

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