Wednesday, October 2, 2013

News: Corporate manslaughter charge for Sterecycle

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The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited should be charged with corporate manslaughter following a fatality at its Rotherham waste treatment facility in 2011.

The company used a patented steam processing method called autoclaving to "pressure cook" household and commercial black-bag waste. The Rotherham plant recovered waste in the form of recyclables and a biomass rich soil like substance called "Sterefibre" which has a number of uses.

The Templeborough site was operational since August 2008 and employed 70 local people. It was as a blueprint for a future roll out of waste processing sites around the country. The site also processed 70,000 tonnes of municipal waste from the councils in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

Michael Whinfrey died when the door to the autoclave that he was working on blew out under pressure. Another operator was seriously injured as a result of the explosion.

The firm called in administrators in 2012 following delays in raising finance on the Canadian stock exchange and "a significant downturn in trading results following a substantial fall in global recyclate prices."

The firm vacated the premises in October 2012 and the operations could not continue as the contract with the local councils was terminated. Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited and associated companies were placed in liquidation in June 2013.

Jane Wragg, specialist prosecutor in the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "I have carefully reviewed the evidence gathered by South Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive during their investigation into the tragic death of Michael Whinfrey. I have concluded that Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited should be charged with an offence of corporate manslaughter.

"I have also authorised charges under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act against Kevin Goss (maintenance manager), Steven Weaver (operations manager) and Paul Greenwell (operations director) and a further charge of perverting the course of justice against Kevin Goss."

The first hearing will take place at Rotherham Magistrates' Court on 14 October 2013.

The world's first commercial scale autoclave plant grew in terms of capacity and job numbers, impressing royals, government ministers and investors.

Images: Sterecycle

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