Felixstowe: Five in court after illegal waste exported from Britain’s top container port

Some of the illegal waste exported from the Port of Felixstowe to Brazil.

Some of the illegal waste exported from the Port of Felixstowe to Brazil. - Credit: Archant

FINES of more than £100,000 have been handed out to exporters who illegally shipped waste, including dirty nappies, used syringes and catheter bags, from ports in Suffolk and Essex to South America.

Some of the illegal waste exported from the Port of Felixstowe to Brazil.

Some of the illegal waste exported from the Port of Felixstowe to Brazil. - Credit: Archant

The scandal of the rubbish ships first hit the headlines more than three years ago when authorities in Brazil were outraged at the discovery of the shipments from the Port of Felixstowe and Tilbury sent to be dumped in their country.

It launched the Environment Agency’s biggest waste crime investigation and prosecution to date, which ended this week at the Old Bailey in London with five defendants, including a father and son, fined for exporting more than 1,500 tonnes of poorly-sorted household waste in 89 40-foot containers in 2008 and 2009, .

Andrew Higham, head of the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team (NECT), said: “Exporting poorly-sorted, contaminated waste is not only against the law – it’s immoral.

“It’s a crime that shows a blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of overseas communities and the environment.

“We were determined to bring those who were behind the export to justice. To do that my officers had to spend over three months hand-picking through hundreds of tonnes of rotting waste to gather evidence and establish where it had all come from.

“Underpinning the crime was complex web of contracts and connections and over 170 witness statements were gathered in the course of our inquiries.

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“Today’s result is testimony to the patience and professionalism of the Environment Agency.”

Julio da Costa, 51, and Juliano da Costa, 27, both of Swindon, Jonathan Coombe, 41, of Romford, and Simon Edwards, 46, of Loughton, and Edwards Waste Paper Limited, all pleaded guilty to their parts in the export of the waste, which had wrongly been described as plastics for recycling. Fines handed out by the court totalled £106,250.

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