GMB claims that Serco ‘dumped hazardous waste in drains’
Refuse, recycling and street cleaning union GMB has called on both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency to investigate claims that hazardous waste has been unlawfully dumped down public drains, during the cleaning of refuse lorries, by contractor Serco.
The union is demanding an urgent inquiry into allegations that Serco has repeatedly told its staff to dispose of hazardous waste water in public drains next to flats in Samuels Court and Field Road in Hammersmith and Fulham.
The union said that refuse lorries should be hosed down and cleaned, with the run-off and waste water collected and put into sealed barrels that should be disposed of in a particular way.
It is believed that the disposal of waste into the drains, which would contravene the Environmental Protection Act 1990, has been continuing for some time, the union said.
Further, allegations include claims that no risk assessment was performed, no safe system of work was in place and no personal protective equipment was provided for the task, all of which are potential breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Serco has run the £140 million waste management and street cleaning contract in Hammersmith and Fulham since 2008.
SHP contacted Serco, and a spokesperson for the company said: “Serco is aware of this allegation which we view seriously and are undertaking a full investigation.”
GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny said the union had “significant concerns not just in relation to the health and safety of our members but to the members of the public living in the area due to the potential exposure to prohibited substances.
“This unregulated disposal of potentially hazardous waste is unacceptable and GMB members and the public must be protected from such unscrupulous practices.
“If Serco are unable to carry out this £140m contract in a legitimate way, then Hammersmith and Fulham should take it back in-house.”