Port does not know what is in containers

BOSSES at Felixstowe port have admitted they have no way of knowing exactly what is in the millions of containers handled at the terminal each year.Toxic waste exported to Brazil earlier this month is believed to have been shipped out through the port - but because the details were not declared correctly, the contents raised no suspicion.

BOSSES at Felixstowe port have admitted they have no way of knowing exactly what is in the millions of containers handled at the terminal each year.

Toxic waste exported to Brazil earlier this month is believed to have been shipped out through the port - but because the details were not declared correctly, the contents raised no suspicion.

Border Agency and HM Customs officials monitor cargo coming and going through the country's ports, keeping a look out for drugs, guns, illegal smuggling of cigarettes and a host of other items, relying on intelligence to identify suspicious boxes.

Head of corporate affairs at the Port of Felixstowe, Paul Davey said: “We are not aware of what is inside the boxes as our job is to handle the cargo through the port, making sure it is loaded and unloaded safely.

“We do work closely with the Border Agency and if they identify a box which they are interested in, we hold it until they investigate and check it.

“The port does not have any direct links with Brazil but cargo from here can arrive there through transhipment options so I have no reason not to believe that the cargo came through Felixstowe.”

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More than 1,400 tonnes of waste in 90 containers - including syringes, condoms and bags of blood - arrived at three Brazilian ports.

Investigations into how the waste - which is to be returned to the UK - was sent are currently taking place and the Environment Agency has said those responsible could face prosecution.

Apart from the hazardous items, the boxes mainly contained food and cleaning product containers, old clothes, shoes, newspapers, DVDs, pieces of computers, and plastics, and should have been entirely material for recycling.

Should Britain be exporting waste to be recycled - shouldn't we be dealing with it here? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk