Environment Agency raid uncovers illegal waste in Upminster

One of the containers filled with goods to export

One of the containers filled with goods to export - Credit: Archant

Criminals have been storing electronic waste and stolen goods in a large storage facility in Upminster.

One of the containers filled with goods to export

One of the containers filled with goods to export - Credit: Archant

The Environment Agency (EA) and partners raided a site at Baldwin’s Farm, Dennises Lane, and believed the items were going to be illegally exported.

The goods posed a threat to the environment and included 900 gas bottles, as well as vehicle parts.

Thousands of pieces of electronic waste and electrical equipment were also found including broken fridges, computers and televisions, which officers believe were ready for illegal export to Africa.

Chris Smith, national intelligence manager, whose team led the operation for the EA said: “The sheer volume of material that we and our partner organisations found and prevented from being exported illegally is a big win, but the battle isn’t over.

One of the containers filled with goods to export

One of the containers filled with goods to export - Credit: Archant

“The action sends a strong message that we will track down those involved in illegal waste activity.

“The effects of exporting waste illegally are harmful to the environment and the economy.

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“It undercuts legitimate businesses and causes harm to human health and the environment in destination countries where it is often burnt in open fires to recover precious metals.”

It is illegal to export hazardous waste such as waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) to non- OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The maximum penalty for exporting waste illegally is an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence.

The EA was joined by lots of partners including the police, Immigration Enforcement, Calor Gas, HMRC, and Essex Police stolen plant team.

The London Fire Brigade and Essex Fire Brigade were also on hand to provide support and ensure the safety of the site.

Waste crime diverts as much as £1billion per annum from legitimate business and the treasury.

Since April 2011, the government has invested £65.2million in tackling it.

Anyone with information about suspected illegal waste should call the EA incident helpline on 0800 807 060 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.