Containers of waste that were alleged to have been illegally exported from the UK to Brazil last month are due to arrive at the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk today.
Seventy one out of a total of 89 containers are due to arrive on the cargo ship MSC Serena, with the remainder returning at a later date. The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) has alleged that some of the containers contain clinical waste including syringes and condoms.
The Environment Agency will be organising the fumigation of the containers before undertaking a full investigation of their contents. Once evidence has been gathered, the Agency will then ensure that the waste is safely dealt with by an appointed contractor. The fumigation process is expected to last a week.
The shipping lines contracted to transport the containers from the UK to Brazil agreed to repatriate the containers to the UK at their own expense.
Earlier this month, officers from the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team raided premises in Swindon with assistance from Wiltshire Police, who arrested a 49-year-old man, a 28-year-old man and a 24-year-old man in connection to the Agency’s ongoing enquiry into the alleged illegal shipment.
Andrew Higham, head of the Environment Agency’s National Environment Crime Unit, said: ‘Our investigation into the alleged export of waste from the UK to Brazil will continue with the return of the containers back to the UK.’
There is a legitimate and growing market abroad for recyclables. The laws covering waste exports are strict but clear: it is illegal to export waste for disposal, but it can be sent abroad for recycling. The maximum penalty for exporting waste illegally is an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.