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Fire risk scrap site faces clearance order following Environment Agency investigation

23 October 2023

TWO FORMER directors of a liquidated Teesside company have been ordered to clear their illegal scrap site of hundreds of vehicles following an investigation process conducted by The Environment Agency, which suggested the risk of fire outbreak due to vehicles not having been de-polluted.

Brothers Yusuf Mohammed, aged 48, and Munir Mohammed (aged 58), both of Phoenix Sidings in Stockton-on-Tees, pleaded guilty to two offences of operating an illegal scrap yard when they appeared at Teesside Crown Court on 18 September.

The duo were directors of the now liquidated Jap Parts Ltd, a scrap vehicle site which became a fire risk. They continued to operate despite the demise of the company and the loss of its environmental permit and failed to engage with Environment Agency officers during a lengthy investigation process.

They were both ordered to pay £1,591 in fines and costs and given a remediation order to clear the site of all the remaining scrap vehicles.

Gary Wallace, area environment manager for The Environment Agency in the North East, said: “The storage and dismantling of scrap vehicles is strictly regulated because of the pollution risks of hazardous liquid such as oil, fuel and break fluids, as well as batteries. Dismantling must be done using methods designed to reduce the risk posed to the environment and the waste stored pending recovery or disposal. Operators must have an environmental permit to carry out these activities.”

Wallace added: “This was a lengthy investigation carried out by our officers where the defendants were non-compliant. I’m pleased there is now a court order in place to ensure the clearance of the site once and for all.”

Reports of illegal scrap storage

Teesside Crown Court heard that the brothers owned two areas of land next to each other at Stockton-on-Tees, at Britannia Road and Phoenix Sidings, near to the railway line, homes and businesses. Their company, Jap Parts Ltd, had an environmental permit in place to run a scrap vehicle site on the Phoenix Sidings land.

In July 2019, Environment Agency officers attended the site after receiving reports of illegal scrap vehicle storage. The Phoenix Sidings site was full with vehicles, while the Britannia Road site – for which there was no permit – also had circa 40 scrap vehicles stored on it.

Enquiries revealed that Jap Parts Ltd was in liquidation and had stopped trading in November 2014. The brothers had set up a new company, namely Jap Parts (North) Ltd, which did not have an environmental permit for activity on either site. Yusif Mohammed confirmed the new company began trading in December 2014, with the vehicle stock transferring across to that new business.

The investigation also revealed that no scrap vehicles had left the site between 2013 and 2018, meaning that the terms of the original permit – which stated vehicles must not be kept for more than three years – had been breached.

The Environment Agency asked the brothers for an action plan to clear the scrap vehicles from both sites.

In September of the same year, Environment Agency officers met the brothers on site. Officers could see around 300 scrap vehicles. Officers raised concerns about the risk of fire outbreak as many of the vehicles had not been de-polluted (a process whereby the hazardous liquids such as fuel and oil are removed and stored safely for disposal). The brothers were told to clear the site by the end of September.

Statutory Notices sent

The defendants said that they thought the permit for Jap Parts Ltd would move to their new company, but they were told this was not the case.

Between September 2019 and the Summer of 2021, The Environment Agency sent a number of statutory notices requiring the defendants to provide more information about waste transfer, storage and clearing the site, in tandem with a request for the brothers to attend for an interview under caution. All of these requests were ignored.