Friday, 4 December 2009
Caption: the van seized on the A1 yesterday, with its deadly cargo.
A vanload of deadly asbestos, discovered on a routine stop-and-search operation on the A1, was more than likely destined to be illegally dumped, council officials have said.
A van was stopped on the A1 at Boston Spa as part of a multi-agency operation, which included officers from Leeds City Council’s Highways and Environmental Enforcement Team.
The driver claimed he had just been to a tip in the North East and the van was empty. But when council officials opened the back, they found it was not only filled with loose and broken asbestos panels but a man was sitting on top of them without any protective equipment at all.
When questioned, the driver could not explain where it had come from or how they planned to get rid of it legally, leading officers to suspect it was going to be dumped illegally. One of the occupants claimed there was six months’ worth of asbestos work in the back of the van.
Further checks showed the company may not be registered to transport controlled waste and despite the driver telling the officer that he had just tipped part of his load, he could not produce a waste transfer document for the tip he had visited that day.
Because of its hazard to the public and the environment, the waste was seized. Unfortunately for the four occupants of the vehicle, this meant the van had to be taken to contain the asbestos so it could be properly disposed of. They had to leave the vehicle and walk to nearby Collingham to arrange alternate transport.
The driver was interviewed regarding waste offences and the company will also be invited in to answer questions. The police were also became involved because the driver had no proper driving license and the vehicle had no tax, insurance or MOT.
West Yorkshire Police organised the stop and search called operation Mermaid to identify vehicle related crime or similar contraventions relating to vehicles using the A1 Motorway systems. Other agencies in attendance were West Yorkshire Joint Services (Trading Standards), Customs and the Highways and Environmental Enforcement Team from Leeds City Council. Customs checked for the use of red diesel, Trading Standards and the police checked for vehicles overloaded and construction and use infringements.
The council officers were specifically looking for vehicles that were transporting waste as part of their business or commercial-related vehicles whose companies produce waste at their premises. Checks are carried out to ensure they could all document how they handle and transport commercial waste.
Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Having asbestos in a vehicle and allowing an employee to sit with this extremely hazardous material just beggars belief.
"We believe it may have been on its way to being fly-tipped somewhere, putting people’s health and the environment at risk. Preventing fly-tipping of commercial waste is what our Highways and Environmental Enforcement Team is looking for when it is involved in these operations.
“This company appears to have failed in its duty of care for the waste it handles as well as its employees’ safety. Our team acted correctly and quickly to protect the environment and prevent harm to human health."
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 229 3937
Posted by Leeds City Council press office at 13:15