Strongblow to Heineken
Published: 09 May 2011
Beer company, Heineken UK Limited, has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 after it admitted to three breaches of its environmental permit at its Tadcaster Brewery site. The company was fined £500 on each of three charges of breaching its permit, and £800 on failing to notify the Environment Agency of the breach without delay.
Selby Magistrates court heard how faults at the site's plant on 5 August 2008 resulted in 32,600 litres of cider being diverted to the nearby effluent treatment plant. Faults on the system which should have been detected went unnoticed as the company had earlier bypassed the plant's electronic monitoring system. The failure to immediately notify the Environment Agency of the issues with the monitoring system breached the company's permit.
The court also heard that on 8 August 2008, 32,000 litres were lost to the effluent treatment plant when an employee selected the wrong operating mode on a vat full of beer. There were no training materials or written procedures provided to staff on how to operate this system properly, and the Environment Agency wasn't notified of this incident until three days later.
The final breach occurred in 2009, when 11,000 kilogrammes of yeast was diverted to an emergency tank after a pipe worked loose. There was no inspection regime for this piece of equipment, so it was not maintained in good condition.
The company was however given credit for its early guilty plea and the fact that there was no impact on the environment.
Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency spokesman said, "Small breaches in procedure can lead to big environmental impacts. We're lucky on this occasion that there was no pollution, but the rules are there for a reason and, working with the courts, we will ensure that they are upheld."
For more information, see the:
- Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675.
Supermarkets urged to be more Pacific about origins of fish
Published: 09 May 2011
Supermarkets have been warned that the food labelling of fish is not going far enough to provide customers with the information they need to make informed choices on the type of fish to buy.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says retailers need to provide further information than just the species, the ocean it comes from and the fishing method to help people discriminate between sustainable and unsustainable seafood.
In a bid to advise consumers on how to choose the most sustainable seafood, the MCS has published the Good Fish Guide, which includes top tips for buying fish, questions to ask at the fish counter and a traffic light-style system indicating the fish that should be eaten, fish to avoid and a list of fish only to eat occasionally.
The MCS argue that shoppers should be encouraged to buy less fashionable varieties of fish such as pollack, gurnard, coley, dab and sprats rather than the traditional choices which account for 90% of fish sales.
Sue Davies, head of policy at the consumer organisation Which? said: "Which? research has also highlighted how confusing it can be to make sure you're buying sustainably sourced fish, and there's a lot of confusion about the existing labelling scheme. It is important to move to a consistent, independently certified scheme."
It must be time for another Northern Ireland Water fine
Published: 09 May 2011
Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has been fined again, this time £2,000, for breaching their discharge consent and releasing untreated sewage into a waterway in County Antrim.
A blockage was caused by inappropriate items being put into the sewerage system, resulting in a discharge from a pumping station stretching 500 metres into the Six Mile Water. The problem at Clotworthy Bridge, was discovered last May and NIW staff said material which should not have been placed into the sewers caused one of the pumps at Masserene Sewage Pumping Station to trip.
A Northern Ireland Environment Agency spokesman said, "A sample taken at the time of the incident confirmed that the discharge contained poisonous, noxious or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fishlife in the receiving waterway."
NIW suggested everyone in Northern Ireland could help reduce pollution incidents and that, "Only toilet roll and human waste should be flushed down the toilet, for everything else - bag it and bin it, don't flush it." NIW claimed that a thorough investigation had highlighted areas in which improvements could be made in order to quickly respond to future incidents and minimise the environmental impact of discharges.
In order to improve their reputation, NIW have invested in water and wastewater services to bring them up to an acceptable standard. This includes a new replacement sewage pumping station due to become operational soon. They commented, "With completion of investment programmes such as this, we are confident that pollution incidents will become less common."
Landfill amendments for Northern Ireland
Published: 07 Apr 2011
Finally, in other waste news, the Landfill (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2011/101 amend the Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/496, to ensure that all landfills which closed after 16 July 2001 comply with the closure and aftercare procedures required under Directive 99/31/EC, on the landfill of waste.
They also change the date from which landfills that finally stopped accepting waste for disposal are exempt from the Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/496. Landfills are now exempt if they stopped accepting waste before 16 July 2001.
Firm appeals corporate manslaughter charge
Published: 06 Apr 2011
Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings has applied for permission to appeal against its conviction under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and the £385,000 fine imposed on them.
Under the legislation, the prosecution must prove that the way in which the relevant activities of the accused organisation were managed or organised caused a person's death, that there was a gross breach of the duty of care to the deceased and that the role of senior management in the offence was substantial. Referring to the background to the incident on 5 September 2008, which resulted in the death of junior geologist Alex Wright when a trench pit collapsed on him, the company's legal representative Kevin Bridges explained how Managing Director Peter Eaton left the trench site at the end of the working day and instructed Mr Wright to "finish up".
However, Mr Eaton did not realise that Mr Wright had gone against company practice and entered a 3.5m deep pit while unsupervised and with nobody else on the surface.
The prosecution had argued that the routine failure by the company to prohibit entry into pits deeper than 1.2m, and the failure of Mr Eaton to enforce such a ban, amounted to a gross breach of the duty of care. They went on to say that their own health and safety policy was ignored, as was relevant industry-specific guidance, British Standards and previous HSE advice.
In response, the defence admitted that the system of work was deficient and that there was a failure to provide specific training and conduct risk assessments and method statements for trial-pit work. In addition, they also failed to ensure their health and safety policy specifically related to trial-pits. Mr Bridges argued that none of the admitted failures related to the specific duty to ensure the safety of Mr Wright, as opposed to employees generally. The defence also suggested the industry guidance and British Standards were not specific and as prescriptive as the prosecution made out. They claimed that others in the industry adopted similar practices and that Mr Wright's entry into the pit that collapsed was contrary to company policy and was unforeseeable and unnecessary.
Given the significance of the case, a decision on whether Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings will be granted permission to appeal is expected within the next few weeks.
Not just any asbestos breach
Published: 06 Apr 2011
High street giant Marks and Spencer have been accused of failing to protect workers and shoppers in a series of alleged asbestos related failures between 2004 and 2006. The breaches were thought to have taken place when refurbishment work was being carried out at its stores in Reading, Bournemouth and Plymouth.
Richard Matthews, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court how the retailer had failed to properly plan its renovation work and that adequate surveys to pinpoint the location of asbestos in the shops were not carried out, despite the fact it was experienced at handling the dust and had its own code of practice for dealing with it.
As a consequence of those failures, shoppers, staff and contractors could have been exposed to the dust, it was claimed.
Mr Matthews said, "Marks and Spencer had a duty to make sure asbestos did not take those working in the store by surprise. If that meant making the store unsightly to customers or interfering with their shopping experience then so be it - better an unattractive store in the short-term than the risk of anything else in the long term."
Marks and Spencer had pleaded not guilty to breaching three counts of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to protecting its own staff, and three counts of that Act in relation to members of the public and other workers.
Co-defendants PA Realisations face one charge in relation to the spread of asbestos at the Reading store, and Wilmott Dixon Construction Limited face two charges relating to the Bournemouth store.
For more information, see the:
- Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2006/2739.