Prison for director behind illegal online chemical sales

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A company director has been sent to prison for 10 months for illegally selling chemicals online. The sentence clearly demonstrates that such activity is being taken seriously by the authorities although the timescales taken do seem rather long. The successful prosecution was brought by the Health & Safety Directorate (HSE) following an original complaint dating back to August 2014.
Full details were given in the HSE’s bulletin on 10 January and are published on the HSE website.

In summary the original complaint was that Abel (UK) Ltd was selling a plant protection product containing Sodium Chlorate, a prohibited substance. The HSE investigation which followed also found the company was selling paint stripper containing dichloromethane (DCM), which is restricted under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

The company has also failed to check at the point of sale whether the paint stripper containing DCM was either being sold for use in industrial installations or, after October 2016, to appropriately certificated professionals, which is a condition of sale.

HSE worked with online platforms to have the advertisements for these products taken down and served enforcement notices to prohibit further supply but the enforcement notices were ignored.

Abel (UK) Ltd’s director pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 9 and 18 of The Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011 and Regulation 11(2) of The REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008, and was given a 10-month custodial sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Dutton said: “Chemicals are carefully regulated to protect human health and the environment. Companies should be aware that HSE will take robust action against those who unnecessarily put the lives of workers and the public at risk, and against those who endanger the environment, through the inappropriate supply and use of chemicals.”

The current issue of Pest magazine reports on the joint action being taken by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) and the Crop Protection Association (CPA) to clamp down on illegal sales of biocides and pesticides online. Together the associations have worked with ebay to prevent illegal online sales. Whilst the scale of the task cannot be overestimated and work is continuing to bring other online retailers onboard this evidence of firm action by HSE and the courts is encouraging.

If you spot any illegal sales of biocides then there are a number of ways you can report it:

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