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Flintshire firm Castle Cement hit with £300,000 bill at Mold Crown Court

Castle Cement

A CEMENT giant has been handed a court bill of more than £300,000 after admitting failing to run its plant properly, causing dust, noise and a danger to health.

Castle Cement in Padeswood near Mold received fines of £250,000 from Judge John Rogers QC, with agreed costs of £55,649, after Mold Crown Court heard yesterday (Thursday) 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 company previously admitted four charges brought against them by Environment Agency Wales covering a period between August 2005 and May 2007, and asked for a further offence in October 2009 to be taken into consideration which involved an escape of 250 tonnes of dust from a broken pipe.

Judge Rogers said it was accepted that there was no evidence of actual harm to any members of the public.

However, it was quite clear there was potential to risk or harm both by virtue of the dust and also the carcinogenic materials in the smoke, the court heard.

He 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.”

The court heard how Agency officials installed CCTV cameras surreptitiously which showed they were not being notified of emissions as they should have been.

Prosecuting barrister Barry Berlin said the public was potentially put at risk to health from the inhalation of dust and potentially carcinogenic smoke.

The present offences occurred following the commissioning of the new £70m Kiln Four, which replaced three earlier kilns in August 2005.

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 £1.8m 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.

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