A RECYCLING firm responsible for a fire at Newport docks which caused a strong stench to plague the area for weeks has been fined a further £15,450.

As previously reported, Bridgend firm South Wales Wood Recycling was fined £16,000 in 2016 for the wood chip fire at Alexandra Docks on a charge of keeping controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health.

At the time, Cwmbran Magistrates' Court heard the financial cost to South Wales Fire and Rescue as a result was £181,524 with the cause of the fire remaining a scientific mystery.

Today, the firm was fined £7,500 by a Cardiff Crown Court judge after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to operating or permitting the operation of a regulated waste facility at Alexandra Docks without a permit – a charge linked to the disposal of the fire damaged wood after the fire.

The court heard that following the original wood chip fire, the firm agreed with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to house waste at an adjoining site as an emergency measure.

NRW made an order in April 2016 requiring the firm to dispose of all waste by December 31 but after the firm failed to meet deadlines, NRW extended the deadline to March 2017.

Despite efforts by the company to remove the waste, a large amount still remained on the site which was unpermitted and unregulated, the court heard.

The following month, two large piles equating to 3,000 tonnes still remained on the site.

Judge Thomas Crowther said that while the company had “went to great efforts” to remove the waste in Newport, its inability to meet deadlines was a “reckless failure”.

The recycling firm also faced additional fines after pleading guilty to two environmental offences linked to its operations in Bridgend.

This included £450 for breach of duty of care linked to the transfer of waste – an offence linked to waste transfer notes – and £7,500 for failing to comply with environmental permit conditions linked to regulations around stacking waste.

South Wales Wood Recycling was fined a total of £15,450 for all three offences.

A South Wales Wood Recycling spokesman after the court case said: "South Wales Wood Recycling Limited had nine of the charges against the company and its director (including charges relating to the fire) thrown out by the judge HHJ Crowther QC.

"It pleaded guilty to three minor charges relating to site housekeeping practices or movement of wood.

"None of them relates to the fire at the company's Bridgend site in September 2016 which the company still believes was the result of a deliberate arson attack.

"The company wishes to take this opportunity to thank their family, friends, stakeholders and staff for their support and commitment during the last 18 months."

Head of South East Wales operations at Natural Resources Wales, Steve Morgan,said: “We are concerned about the impact that poorly managed sites can have on people, the environment and the economy, including the reputation of the waste sector and legitimate business. 

“The regulations in place for the safe management and storage of waste are there to protect both people and the environment.  When those laws are ignored, the consequences can be very serious indeed.

“We hope the outcome of this case will send out a positive message in the waste industry that we will not tolerate those who seek to profit by breaking the law, harming local communities or damaging the environment.”