Lorry firm is fined £32,000 for offal mess

Spillage at Halifax Road, Queensbury
Spillage at Halifax Road, Queensbury

A COMPANY was slammed by a judge for repeated failures after admitting spillages of foul-smelling animal waste up to a foot deep from its lorries.

Alba Transport carries waste for sister company Omega Proteins, both part of the Leo Group which has its head office and a waste storage site at Swalesmoor near Boothtown, Halifax.

The transport firm admitted two offences of breaching animal by-product laws and asked for six more to be taken into consideration.

The spillages date back to 2009 and were all in the Bradford area, including incidents on the Calderdale boundary at the junction of Swalesmoor Road and Queensbury Road, and outside Foxhill Primary School, Queensbury.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme, sentencing at Bradford Crown Court yesterday, said the company had repeatedly breached regulations and fined it £32,000 with £9,528 costs.

“These offences are very serious and cause upset to members of the public confronted with the disgusting sight and smell of animal blood and intestines.

“The offences continued even after charges had been brought. More should have been done to prevent these spillages.”

The court was told animal by-product waste should be transported with regard to protecting public health.

Peter Hampton, prosecuting for Bradford Council, said the company used trailers and lorries covered by tarpaulin.

“That represented the only barrier between waste and the local environment it was being carried through,” he said.

“It was inevitable there would be the likelihood animal by-products would spill out, the risk increasing as the waste released gas as it decomposed, increasing the liquid volume of loads.”

Nicholas de la Poer, mitigating, said the company had invested heavily in its fleet and despite Omega Proteins being fined for similar offences previously, he said Alba was entitled to be treated as a company of good character.

“This is a technical matter with many facets to it,” he said.

Company director Danny Sawrij wrote a letter of apology to the court.

He said the company had made a signifant investment in its fleet and worked with trailer and sheeting manufacturers to minimise spillages.

“It is not possible to have a fully-sealed container as suggested due to the way the material is filled and the nature of material itself,” he wrote. “Unfortunately accidents do happen but it is not due to any corner-cutting or commercial gain for the company.

“I would like to reiterate one incident is not acceptable to me and I will do all in the company’s power to avoid them.”

Bev Barker, of the Swalesmoor Action Group, said: “I’m very disappointed. The penalty is small pocket change for the Leo Group.

“We expected a fine in the region of £80,000 and this is no incentive to the company to improve its standards.

“We fully expect more spillages and hope residents will take details and report them to the appropriate Envionmental Health department.”

After the hearing, a spokesman for the company said it regretted the incidents but they had not posed a risk to public health.

“To put them into perspective, over the last three years our fleet of 100 vehicles travelled the equivalent of 1,000 times around the earth (41,000,000 km).

“They carried more than 1.5 million tonnes of animal waste, which is the equivalent weight of 70 Ark Royal aircraft carriers.

“We are an integral part of the UK’s agricultural industry which is worth £80bn a year to the UK economy and our work makes shopping baskets cheaper for everyone.

“We are determined to minimise the chance of these accidents happening again.”