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Man prosecuted for dumping asbestos on a road

Date: 25/04/2012           Category: Enforcement

A roofer has been electronically tagged after driving with broken up asbestos on the back of an open lorry and dumping it on a highway.

Wallace Sharpless, 37, went to an industrial estate in Strood to find a place to get rid of the hazardous material.

He asked two scrap yards in the Knights Road area – ADS and Walsh’s Yard - if they would take it, but they refused as it was asbestos.

The 37-year-old, who lives at Allison Avenue, Gillingham and runs the Advance Roofcare Shop in nearby Barnsole Road, then dumped half opposite Walsh's Yard in Strood before shedding the rest outside nearby Morgan’s Timber yard.

Alan Conroy, prosecuting for Medway Council, told Medway magistrates court the asbestos was a Class A carcinogen with a ‘high toxicity’, which was ‘in a broken form on the back of an open truck’.
He said: “On 4 October last year, Mr Sharpless attempted to dump asbestos in the Knights Road area in Strood. He first drove to the end of Knights Road and called on an operative in a yard and was told they didn’t take asbestos.

Mr Controy said that after also being refused at Walsh’s Yard, ‘he asked his employee with him to help him to fly-tip the waste on the highway’.

He added: “The aggravating feature here was that Mr Sharpless was told it was asbestos. He was told by two yards that they wouldn’t take it and then he dispensed it on the high road regardless.

“We don’t know where he got it, but it was certainly driven through open areas where there were members of the public and an industrial area where there were workers and people out walking their dogs.”

Robert Weston, defending, said the asbestos came from a shed roof Sharpless was disposing for a client and when he couldn’t get a works yard to take it ‘he panicked and made the rather stupid decision to dump asbestos by the side of the road.”

Sharpless was sentenced to a curfew order between 8.30pm and 6.30pm for four months and ordered to wear an electronic tag. He was also ordered to pay £1.020 costs including £720 to Medway Council for clearing the asbestos.

He previously admitted transporting and depositing asbestos without a permit, failing to take it to an authorised place, not having the correct paperwork and failing to take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to others.

Sentencing him, Angela Howe, the Chair of the Magistrates' bench, said: “We consider this to be a very serious offence with you being fully aware that asbestos is a dangerous substance and a danger to the public.”

Following the 24 April hearing, Cllr Mike O’Brien, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact, said: “This man put members of the public at risk, as well as Medway Council’s environmental health workers who cleaned this dangerous asbestos away.

“It is shocking that someone can have such little regard for others and act in this way.”