Directors jailed for their part in Fforestfach tyre fire
THE two directors of the company responsible for the Fforestfach fire have been jailed for six months.
Scott Phillips and Peter Thomas were directors of Greener Globally Solutions Limited and had illegally stored more than 5,000 tonnes of waste in a building the judge jailing them said was "inherently unsuitable".
Jailing them, Judge Paul Thomas said: "The scale and impact of this fire is such that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified."
During the case is emerged that authorities had been told six months before the fire that illegal waste was being stored and it was a serious fire risk.
The blaze, which brought the city to a standstill, lasted for 23 days.
It has now been revealed authorities had been tipped off that the waste was being illegally stored in January 2011 and after an inspection, a plan had been put in place in case any fire broke out.
Two months after that plan was put in place, the worst happened and a massive fire broke out.
The clean-up has already cost £1.6 million, but the cost to taxpayers will go up more once the burnt waste has been disposed of.
The pair, the former managing director and technical director of the company, have admitted knowingly storing waste without the correct permit.
Phillips and Thomas appeared in the dock at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing.
Prosecutor Nicholas Jones said the company, which went bust in 2009, set up a contract with a Baglan-based company to allow them to make deposits up to six days a week.
The pair had put that in an all but derelict unit at the Fforestfach industrial estate. It was packed with 5,000 tonnes of rubber fluff - a combination of textile, rubber and steel.
They also found further flammable waste in the adjoining unit 4.
Over the nine month period in 2008 they made deliveries on 202 days and received payments of £261,559.
On June 16, 2011, the blaze was started by a person or persons unknown.
As well as the huge disruption to residents and businesses, emergency services were also stretched. The fire brigade remained on site for four weeks.
In that time 58 appliances and 45 officers went to the blaze. In total crews spent 11,747 hours there.
The pair said they had taken the waste in to raise capital to set up their business and buy machinery but the court heard the Environment Agency would not have given the company a permit to operate anyway and the work they wanted to complete was highly technical.
Barristers for both the men said they had not been driven by greed but wanted to expand their business.
Chris James, for Phillips, aged 66, from Heol Cadifor, Penlan, said: "He wasn't motivated by anything but a genuine desire to create a viable business venture that would contribute to a cleaner environment".
David Harris, for Thomas, aged 44, from Main Road, Bryncoch, said his client, who has health problems was not in a position to complete unpaid work or pay a fine after being made bankrupt and urged the judge to impose an alternative sentence.
The judge told the pair: "Both of you bore the onerous responsibility of being directors of the company. Hold pleaded ignorance in one way or another. Ignorance of course is no excuse."
"When all is said and done, an event of this magnitude must be marked by an immediate sentence to send a message that regulations such as these are there for a very important purpose," he said.
He added: "The message must be brought home that there is no room for recklessness in this sphere".