A SCRAPYARD in Ammanford has been ordered to pay more than £48,000 after admitting two environmental waste offences.

Ammanford Recycling Limited was charged with four breaches of environmental permit conditions by Natural Resources Wales.

The company, which offers car scrappage and metal recycling, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to comply with or contravening an environmental permit condition, and NRW deemed these pleas acceptable.

On February 1 last year, Natural Resources Wales carried out a site visit and identified “several breaches” of the permit conditions, prosecutor Jon Tarrant said.

This involved oily waste – including end of life vehicle parts and engine blocks – not being properly segregated at the site, while the concrete pad beneath “required maintenance in several areas” and there was oil pooling in the cracks in the concrete pad.

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Under the terms of the environmental permit, the site was required to immediately clean up any oil spilled. However, the inspection found several oil spills.

The court heard that Natural Resources Wales received a further incident report on March 24, relating to an alleged failure to address a potentially polluting oil spillage.

“Oil appeared to have been pumped out of the site on to the land of Wales and West Utilities,” Mr Tarrant said.

The pool of oil was around “five to six metres long”, and was “less than 20 metres away from the River Loughor”, he said.

The river was checked, and there was no evidence the oil had polluted the water.

South Wales Guardian: A pool of oil from the site was discovered less than 20 metres from the River Loughor.A pool of oil from the site was discovered less than 20 metres from the River Loughor. (Image: Google Maps)

Mr Tarrant said this oil spill was “not deliberate”, but was the result of a burst pipe.

He added that it was “fully accepted the spillage could have been discovered sooner”, and that it  should have been cleaned up immediately under the conditions of the environmental permit.

Mr Tarrant acknowledged that Ammanford Recycling Ltd “had shown improvements”, but said that “a significant amount of resources” had been spent on monitoring the site and bringing it in to compliance.

Nicholas Cotter, representing the company, said Ammanford Recycling Ltd had co-operated fully with Natural Resources Wales and that “effective compliance is now in place”.

He said the company had “spent well over £1 million rectifying problems on the yard”, particularly with regard to sealing it to prevent any further leaks off-site.

Addressing the off-site leak, he said: “This is a pollution offence outside the site not caused by a deliberate pumping off-site, but by a failure of the system.”

Mr Cotter explained that when engine oil was pumped, it was taken in the pipes around the side of the site to a vat.

“A rain storm led to one of the pipes bursting,” he said.

“We didn’t have people checking the pipes enough. That’s now changed.”

He added that the company had since replaced this system with underground pipes to avoid a repeat of this incident.

He admitted that there had been “some segregation breaches” in relation to the February 1 offence, but that there had been “no deliberate breach”.

“They have made proper endeavours to make sure this does not happen again,” he said, adding that there was now a member of staff on-site to ensure compliance.

Judge Paul Thomas KC said: “I accept there has been improvements and investments by the company, but on the other hand that was as a result of a large number of visits from Natural Resources Wales.”

Judge Thomas said he deemed the first offence as being due to negligence, while the second offence was “reckless”.

“By then, the company were on notice that there were problems of a general nature,” he said. “It is clear that all was not well with the systems in place.

“The potential impact was serious.”

He fined the company £18,000 for the first offence, and a further £24,000 for the second. Ammanford Recycling Ltd must pay costs of £4,652.42, and a victim surcharge of £2,000.