The British Ambassador in Bucharest Andrew Noble has said that he is concerned to learn that there might have been criminal abuse of legitimate trade links between the UK and Romania in the light of the recent information regarding illegal waste exports from UK to Romania.
“If there is evidence of criminal behaviour, I encourage the Romanian authorities to pursue the perpetrators with all the rigour of the law. We take such matters very seriously in the UK”, the ambassador has said, according to a press release by the UK Embassy to Romania.
According to the UK’s Environment Agency, “the illegal export of waste is a crime and we will not hesitate to take action against those responsible with offenders facing either a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.”
Earlier this year, the Environment Agency launched a new taskforce dedicated to tackling serious and organised waste crime, such as dumping hazardous materials on private land and falsely labelling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries. The agency’s main focus is on disrupting potential illegal shipments through upstream intervention at waste sites to prevent it being exported in the first place. In 2018/19, the Environment Agency inspected 926 shipping containers at port and returned 236 of those to sites due to the unsuitability of the waste due to be exported. In 2018/19, they prevented 12,690 tonnes of waste illegally exported through intervention at sites and ports.
Between the financial years 2014/15 and 2018/19, the Environment Agency successfully prosecuted 7 companies and 15 individuals for waste export offences. In addition, in June 2019, a substantial prosecution was made for waste export offences. Enforcement action against those suspected of illegally exporting waste includes prosecution and the subsequent consequences can include custodial sentences of up to 2 years and an unlimited fine and recovery of money and assets gained through the course of criminal activity. The agency investigates the circumstances behind all repatriation requests to identify those responsible for the alleged illegal export and to attempt to get waste returned voluntarily.