Companies fined €40,000 over waste breaches

A pharmaceutical company and one of its contractors have been fined €40,000 each at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on charges relating to their waste management practices.

AHP Manufacturing BV trading as Wyeth Medica Ireland pleaded guilty through their financial director, Mr Tim Brosnan, to two counts that they disposed of or recovered waste materials, namely rinse water containing active ingredient medroxyprogestrone acetate (MPA), by means of Cara Environmental Technology who was not an agreed hazardous waste contractor, on September 18, 2000 and November 28, 2001.

Wyeth Medica Ireland, of Newbridge, Co Kildare, further pleaded guilty to shipping waste out of the State without a certificate on April 26, 2001; and being the consignors of waste, in the course of transferring hazardous waste, engaged an agent who mixed hazardous waste with non hazardous waste on May 15, 2001.

Dublin-based Cara Environmental Technology Limited pleaded guilty, through their solicitor Mr Norman Fitzgerald, to four counts of shipping waste out of the State without a certificate on dates between September 18, 2000 and November 28, 2001.

Judge Patricia Ryan said the prosecution had accepted at all times that Wyeth Medica Ireland believed its waste was being treated properly by Bioland but that the medical company acknowledged that it failed to take further steps in the matter.

“There has been strenuous efforts made by Wyeth Medica since these offences occurred and they haven’t reoccurred and Bioland acted in a criminal fashion in order to make money,” said Judge Ryan.

Detective Garda Philip Ryan told Mr Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, that Wyeth Medica Ireland had engaged Cara Environmental Technology Ltd to dispose of their hazardous waste material, namely sugar water which contained traces of MPA, a synthetic version of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Cara Environmental Technology Ltd had classified the waste as green, for non-hazardous waste instead of amber or red for hazardous waste, therefore could move the waste between states without regulation or notification.

Det Ryan confirmed that Cara were not agreed hazardous waste contractors under Environmental Protection Agency licence.

Cara had suggested to Wyeth that Bioland, a sugar waste processor in Belgium, which makes glucose syrup, would dispose of the waste and samples of the waste material were provided by Wyeth to Cara for Bioland for testing.

“By July 2000, Wyeth had received verbal confirmation from Cara that Bioland could accept the MPA sugar water waste,” explained Det Ryan.

Mr O’Connell accepted that Wyeth had no intention to cause any damage or harm or make financial gain as the company believed the waste would be properly treated and disposed of in Belgium.

Mr Shane Murphy, SC, defending Wyeth, said that representatives from both Wyeth and Cara sought a copy of the licence from Bioland to state that company could accept hazardous waste.

“But this was not provided although Bioland had said they did have one but both companies never followed it up,” explained Mr Murphy.

“It was an oversight by personnel in Wyeth and Cara and unknown to Wyeth, the persons running Bioland were not carrying out proper procedures,” he said.

Mr Murphy told the court that criminal proceedings took place in Belgium in June against the two brothers who own Bioland as traces of a banned growth hormone, MPA, were found at two soft drink factories and in pig feed in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

The hormone was part of a shipment of medical waste from Ireland which Bioland had used as glucose syrup, which was not the intended purpose for it.

Det Ryan agreed with Mr O’Connell that Bioland had deceived both Cara and Wyeth and agreed that Wyeth had honestly believed the waste was being treated properly by Bioland.

Both Wyeth and Cara have no previous convictions and Mr Murphy said “Wyeth relied on an experienced waste broker but ought to have carried out steps and failed to meet standards.”

“There was a source of errors and although practices and procedures are in place at Wyeth, deficiencies occurred and the company has done its level best to ensure there has been no repeat of this error,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Patrick Gageby SC, defending Cara Environmental Technology Ltd said, “Cara’s charges relate solely to a complaint to shipping waste without a certificate.”

“Two reputable companies made a series of errors and assurances were taken at face value and there is no suggestion that Cara or Wyeth did anything deliberately for financial reasons,” he said.

Wyeth Medica Ireland agreed to pay €70,000 as a contribution to the prosecution costs while Cara Environmental Technologies Limited agreed to pay €50,000 costs.

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