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HSL Helps Secure Successful Prosecution for Environment Agency

Work by HSL staff has helped the Environment Agency (EA) secure the first prosecution of its kind in England and Wales.

On Wednesday 9th February, the EA successfully prosecuted Swynnerton based Echo 2 for importing fireworks containing hexachlorobenze (HCB) - a Persistent Organic Pollutant, or POP. These are of global concern since they accumulate in the fatty tissues of organisms and, because of slow degradation, bioaccumulate in food chains where they can pose a risk to human health and the environment.

HSL staff collected samples of 12 different fireworks from the Swynnerton site. These were taken back to the HSL laboratory where analysis showed that 2 of the samples, 'Devil's Wrath and 'Devil's Desire', contained the harmful chemical. Members of the HSL Team also provided expert witness statements and key evidence at the trial where Echo 2 were sentenced to a fine of £2,600 plus costs of £4,568.34 and a victim surcharge of £15 for importing fireworks containing a harmful chemical.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation said,"This is the first company to be prosecuted for importing fireworks containing HCB. This chemical can harm the environment if fireworks containing it do not burn completely or if they burn at a low temperature. It is fortunate that, in this case, the fireworks were not passed on to the public. We take cases like this very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute where we feel it is warranted."

The fireworks have now been safely destroyed and there is no evidence to suggest that they were ever passed on to retailers for onward sale.


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