Brazil ships illegal waste back to UK

The Brazilian government announced this week that 89 containers of illegal waste have left the port of Santos and are in the process of being shipped back to the UK.

The 1,500 tonnes of waste, which was originally labelled as recyclable plastic, was uncovered last month as part of an investigation into illegal waste exports from the UK.

Brazilian authorities found that the containers held landfill and hazardous waste, including batteries, used syringes and dirty nappies, which it is illegal to ship across country borders under the Basel Convention.

Three men in the UK were subsequently arrested following an investigation by the Environment Agency and have since been released on bail.

If successfully prosecuted under waste laws, the men face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it was continuing to work with the authorities in Brazil and the shipping companies that originally transported the containers to ensure all the waste is returned to the UK and disposed of safely.

"On 3 August, 81 containers began their journey back to the UK from the Brazilian ports of Rio Grande and Santos," he said. "We expect these containers to be back in the UK by late August.

"A number of containers are still in the process of being repacked by Brazilian authorities so that they can be shipped back to the UK. These containers will follow at a later date. When the containers return to the UK, the Environment Agency will carry out an investigation of their contents and then ensure the waste is safely dealt with."

The Brazilian authorities have said they will lodge a formal complaint with the World Trade Organisation over the shipments.

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