The Environment Agency is investigating after almost 90 containers of alleged illegal waste from the UK were intercepted.
The Indonesian authorities raised concerns that the around 1800-tonne cargo - described as scrap metal - was heavily contaminated with liquid and mixed waste, and requested repatriation of the containers to the UK.
Under the terms of the international laws which govern global waste exports, Indonesia may accept scrap metal for recycling. However contaminated waste cannot be exported.
The Environment Agency, which has environmental crime teams to track and prosecute organised criminal gangs who dump waste illegally, is taking action to ensure the safe return of the containers.
The Environment Agency has started its own investigation and is liaising with the Indonesian authorities. The containers are due to be released for repatriation by Indonesian authorities at the end of March. The shipment will then take about a month to reach the UK.
Andy Higham, who heads up the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team said: “We are working closely with the Indonesian authorities to establish the facts of this case.
“Illegal waste exports risk harm to human health and the environment in the country of export, it also undermines law-abiding recycling businesses back home. There is a legitimate export market for recyclable material. However, we will take vigorous action where there is evidence of waste being exported illegally.”
The Environment Agency will oversee the arrival of the containers before undertaking an inspection of their contents. The inspection is expected to be lengthy and a fumigation process may have to take place first to make it safe for officers to document the consignment.
High profile case - Brazil
Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is bringing a high profile case against four men and two companies for the alleged illegal export of 89 containers of prohibited waste to Brazil between November 2008 and July 2009.
The defendants appeared before the City of London Magistrates Court last week and were informed that their case will be heard at the Old Bailey on the 12th of April at 9.30am.
Andy Higham added: “The prosecutor for the Environment Agency requested that the case should be heard at the Crown Court due to the scale and complexity of the case. This significant decision reflects the seriousness of the charges."
The prosecution follows an extensive two-year investigation by the Environment Agency.
The six defendants are:
Julio Cesar Rando da Costa, of Swindon; Julio Valderama da Costa, of Swindon; Simon Edwards, of Loughton, Essex; John Coombe, of Romford; Edwards Waste Paper Limited and Edwards Recycling Limited.
The Environment Agency withdrew charges against Worldwide Biorecyclables Ltd, because the company has gone into liquidation. Another person originally arrested in connection with this matter failed to attend his last bail hearing and is still at large.
The Environment Agency continues its work to stop illegal waste crime. Anyone with information about illegal exports or large scale dumping in the UK can help by contacting the Environment Agency, 0800 80 70 60 or Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.