Brazil waste ship returns to the UK

The ship at the centre of an investigation into waste illegally shipped from the UK to Brazil is expected to arrive back at the port of Felixstowe later today.

The Environment Agency said that 71 out of a total of 89 containers suspected of carrying waste illegally shipped to Brazil were due to arrive on the MSC Serena today with the remaining containers to return at a later date.

The containers were uncovered last month by authorities in Brazil and are believed to contain landfill and surgical waste that had been exported from the UK in breach of the Basel Convention.

The Environment Agency said that it will now continue its investigation into the export of the waste, which has already seen three men arrested and bailed in connection with the containers. If charged and found guilty, they face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Andrew Higham, head of the Environment Agency's national environment crime unit, said: "The containers will be fumigated, after which we will carry out an investigation of the contents to help us to gather evidence for our ongoing enquiry into the source of this waste. The United Kingdom has taken a strong global lead to stamp out the illegal waste trade, in order to protect people and the environment. We are not going to allow our waste to be dumped on developing countries."

The Agency said that once the waste has been investigated it will be disposed of safely in line with waste regulations.

It remains unclear if the Brazilian government will continue with its threat to report the UK to the World Trade Organisation for breaching the Basel Convention.

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