A cement manufacturer has been fined £250,000 plus costs after it admitted failing to run its plant properly, causing a dust, noise and a danger to health.
Castle Cement, now rebranded as Hanson Cement, received a total bill of more than £300,000 after admitted four charges relating to dust and noise at its Padeswood plant in Mold, Wales.
The Environment Agency Wales said the total was one of the highest ever court awards for an environmental offence in the UK.
Mold Crown Court also heard that potentially dangerous smoke had also been released from two fires at the site.
The court heard that people’s health was potentially put at risk by breaches in operating the works.
There could be an increased risk of cancer, respiratory and heart conditions because of the dust and rubber smoke from fires, although it was stressed that none of these conditions had been detected.
The charges cover a period between August 2005 and May 2007.
Judge John Rogers QC said: “These were persistent breaches of the permit conditions resulting in dust emissions, smoke emissions from burning tyres and other materials, and unacceptable noise levels.”
“Emissions of dust and the fire particles put the general public to some potential risk of injury to their health.”
The court heard how Agency officials installed CCTV cameras surreptitiously which showed they were not being notified of emissions as they should have been.
The company admitted that it failed to maintain all plant and equipment in a good operating condition, failed to comply with enforcement notices, failed to operate appropriate techniques to minimise dust emissions and failed to control excess noise and vibration.
John Wyn Williams, defending, said the company had cooperated throughout as well as investing some £1.8 million in environmental improvements.
He said Castle was an “extremely different company” today.
The business had been hit by the recession and the new kiln had only worked for 12 weeks during the 2009/2010 year, he added.