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Pollution fear in Rainham

PUBLISHED: 17:58 30 September 2010 | UPDATED: 15:51 12 November 2010

A RAINHAM car breaker whose illegal activity sparked at least four fires and polluted a river close to a nature reserve, was sentenced in court last week, along with the site owner.

Festus Odonowo stored engines on unprepared ground, in Ferry Lane, allowing oil to seep into the earth, while car parts were piled high and would fall over the site boundary into a brook near Rainham Marshes, Basildon Crown Court heard.

During an interview under caution, Odonowo said he received polluted waste vehicles, dismantled them on site and shipped some parts off to Africa.

Oils and coolant were disposed of in a drain outside the site.

Site owner, John Palmer - who rented the land to Odonowo - was made aware of the illegal activities by the Environment Agency and was occasionally present when officers visited.

However, he failed to attend an interview with the Agency officers about the site.

Between 2005 and 2008, the officers served various notices to both Palmer and Odonowo to halt the car breaking activities on the site, to no avail.

The unregulated activities caused severe disruption to neighbouring businesses, especially when the fire services had to be called out to deal with fires at the site.

Odonowo, 45, of Heaton House, Heaton Road, Southwark, south east London, was given a 12-month community service order and ordered to do unpaid work for 100 hours, last Friday, after he pleaded guilty on August 18 to depositing controlled waste on land without a licence, treating waste without a waste management licence and operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit.

Palmer, of Ardmore Lane, Buckhurst Hill, Essex, admitted knowingly permitting the deposit of controlled waste, vehicles and vehicle parts at the site without a waste management licence on August 20.

He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,000.

After the hearing, environmental crime officer, Kim Egbokhan, said: “Cars contain liquids which have the potential to harm the environment if they are not disposed of correctly. We issue environmental permits for car breakers so that we can work with them to ensure they operate in a way that won’t harm the environment. Sites that do not have environmental permits are a real threat to our environment and human health.

“This site was close to Rainham Marshes nature reserve and so posed a very real threat to the natural environment. The fact that vehicle parts fell into the brook meant that there was also a risk of contamination even further afield, as contaminants could be swept downstream of the site by the flowing water.

”The fires that occurred on site were further proof of the dangers associated with these sorts of illegal operations.”

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