Company convicted over abandoned monitors

A company has been fined £5,000 for contravening environmental laws, but denies allegations of fly tipping
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A UK computer repair firm was fined £5,000 last week after 200 computer monitors and other computer equipment including keyboards were found at three sites around Normanton in Derbyshire in November 2004.

Channel Hardware of Bolsover, Chesterfield, was found guilty at Chesterfield Magistrates Court of "keeping waste without a licence and failing to prevent the escape of waste by not storing it in a secure area".

"The serial numbers were traced back to Channel Hardware, whose business was to carry out computer repairs and deal with discarded computer equipment," said Rob Walsh, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency, which brought the case.

"This is certainly an example of what not to do," Walsh added.

But Channel Hardware has rejected claims that it was 'fly tipping' the kit, and hopes to overturn the conviction.

"We will appeal the court's decision," a company employee told ZDNet UK on Monday.

The employee added that Channel Hardware was seeking legal advice over whether coverage of the trial has been fair.

"People have said we were prosecuted for fly-tipping. We weren't — we were found guilty of not having a waste management licence, and not securing waste. Well, we had a big steel gate with barbed wire strung over the top, but you can't second-guess these things," said the Channel Hardware employee. "We're taking legal advice about libel," the employee added.

Computer monitors are classified by the European Waste Catalogue as hazardous and are dangerous to the environment for two reasons — because they contain a cathode ray tube that can explode if crushed and because the screens contain phosphor, lead and barium which can pollute if washed into the ground, the Environment Agency said.

The Environment Agency recouped costs of £2,698.44 from Channel Hardware, on top of the £5,000 fine.

"We're very pleased with the outcome," said Walsh. "Hopefully it'll be a warning to others," he added.

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