Sellafield get it wrong
Published: 26 Jun 2013
The owner of the Sellafield nuclear plant has been fined £700,000 after admitting sending low-level radioactive waste to a landfill site.
Sellafield Limited confessed to sending four bags, containing plastic, paper, clothing, wood and metal, from its plant to the Lillyhall landfill in Workington, in April 2010. The bags should have been sent to the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg. According to the firm, a wrongly configured monitoring system resulted in the bags being labelled as "general waste", making them exempt from the usual disposal treatment process.
The charges were brought to Carlisle Crown Court by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, and included breaches of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Judge Peter Hughes said the mistakes were the result of "basic management failures". He commented, "this prosecution arises out of the discovery, by chance, that bags of radioactive waste had been wrongly classified as exempt waste and allowed to leave Sellafield and to be transported to a landfill site and deposited there. That such a basic mistake could possibly occur in what needs to be an industry managed and operated with scrupulous care for public safety and the environment is bound to be a matter of grave concern."
A statement from the company, which has held an ISO 14001 certification since 1997, said it regretted the incident and had suspended the disposal of waste from the site until it had identified and corrected the error.
New record for electric car
Published: 26 Jun 2013
Drayson Racing Technologies has produced a new car that has broken the land speed record for a lightweight electric car. The previous record, set at 175mph by Battery Box General Electric in 1974, was beaten by Drayson's Lola B12 69/EV vehicle which reached a top speed of 204.2mph.
In order to qualify for the attempt, the firm had to make its vehicle weigh less than 1,000kg without the driver. It therefore adapted a Le Mans Series car it had previously designed, and replaced its original bio-ethanol fuel engine with a 20kwh battery offering 850 horsepower.
Lord Drayson, who established Drayson Racing Technologies in 2007, said, "What it, I hope, shows to people is just what the future potential of electric cars is. Obviously this is a very special racing car, but by setting this new world record here in Britain we say two things. One it is a pointer to the future - the technology that we developed for this car will filter down to the cars we use every day. And secondly it's a message about how here in the UK we're a world leader with this technology. We've led motorsport engineering, now we're also leading with electric motorsport engineering."
The firm want to enter the vehicle into next year's Le Mans 24 race, saying the competition would act as a test bed for technologies that could find their way into road cars.
It is clear that firms are beginning to take the potential of electric vehicles seriously. At the same time, Nissan, a global leader in electric road vehicles, has also unveiled the Zeod RC (Zero Emission on Demand Racing Car), which can switch between electric and petrol power and which will make its début at next year's Le Mans 24 race.
PPC changes again in Northern Ireland
Published: 26 Jun 2013
The Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2013/160 came into force on 20 June 2013. They implement Directive 2010/75/EU, on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control), which takes account of a review of the implementation of Directive 2008/1/EC, on the same subject, as well as incorporating a number of other EU measures on industrial pollution (including those on waste incineration, large combustion plant and solvent emissions).
The Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/46, together with Regulations on waste incineration and solvent emissions will be revoked and replaced on 7 January 2014. Provisions on large combustion plants will be revoked on 1 January 2016.
These 2013 Regulations also revoke and replace the Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2012/453, which only came into force on 6 January 2013.
The revocation was necessary because of an error in the text.
As a result, the main changes are reflected in Part B of section 6.4 of the Full Text of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to these Regulations, which deals with coating activities, printing and textile treatments.
The following legislation which had been revoked by the Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2012/453 remains revoked:
Giving nature a home is the right move says Linda Barker
Published: 21 Jun 2013
In response to the shocking statistic that over 60% of wildlife species have declined over recent decades, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are urging people across the UK to give nature a home in their own gardens.
The State of Nature report reveals that some of the nation's favourite species are in decline, including starlings, hedgehogs, as well as some butterflies and ladybirds, all of which are in danger of further decline unless more is done to provide better habitats.
As well as encouraging individuals to help nature in their own gardens, the RSPB will also be outlining what businesses, communities and politicians can do to help save wildlife from extinction over the next couple of months.
Recommendations from the RSPB's "Giving Nature a Home" campaign includes allowing the lawn to grow long, leaving a patch of nettles at the bottom of the garden, letting weeds like dandelions grow, leaving piles of logs for insects to live in and making a hole in the fence for hedgehogs to crawl through.
Other messy measures include not tidying up all the leaves under shrubs, filling buckets with wood chip, soil and rotten branches for insects and old washing up tubs full of water and gravel as a "mini pond".
TV homes expert, Linda Barker, is one of the famous faces supporting the campaign. She said, "I'm getting behind the RSPB’s campaign because, to me, having wildlife in your garden is the perfect finishing touch to any home. In my garden I've put up a nest box for birds and planted nectar-rich flowers to attract bees. If everyone can do just one thing and gave nature a home in their outside space it would be amazing - together we can make a big difference."
In an unusual move, RSPB has joined up with property website Rightmove to help promote the campaign to homeowners, renters and those looking to get on to the property ladder.
Matt James, from Rightmove, said, "Although we're more used to helping people find a home than helping them build one, when the RSPB told us about the parlous position of some of the UK's favourite species we felt compelled to throw our support behind the campaign. More than one million people visit Rightmove every single day looking for a new place to call home and we'll be doing our bit to spread the word about just how easy it can be to make a difference."
The RSBP will also embark on its first-ever primetime television advertising campaign next month to promote its campaign.
Chocolate company fined following accident
Published: 20 Jun 2013
Ashbury Chocolates Ltd has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,485 at Kettering Magistrates' court after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2306. The breach related to an accident in which an employee's finger was partially severed in an inadequately guarded machine.
Joao Countinho was cleaning a machine which pipes liquid chocolate into moulds in February 2012. Having removed the rotors, Mr. Countinho reached up to check that the stirrer cavity was clean but the stirrers were still rotating. His left index finger then became trapped where it was partially severed. It was later amputated in hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the machine was only partially guarded. Although there was an interlocking guard at the top of the stirrer cavity, there was no protective device in place at the bottom, allowing Mr Countinho to reach into the machine even though it was running.
HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said, "This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented. Ashbury Chocolates Limited had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty. The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen."
Although Mr. Countinho was off work for around three months, he has since returned to the company doing the same job.
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It's Recycle Week!
Published: 18 Jun 2013
This week is Recycle Week - a national event to encourage more people to recycle more things more often.
The annual event is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and over the past decade the UK has recycled 50 billion plastic drinks bottles, which if laid end-to-end, would stretch to the moon and back ten times over. It has also been revealed that during the same time period, recycling schemes across the UK have collected materials such as card, paper, plastic and glass worth £2.4 billion.
WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin said, "As a nation, we've come a long way since we first began to take recycling seriously. This is good news for the environment - it means we're sending less waste to landfill and making better use of the natural materials that go into the products we use every day. It is hugely important for our economy. The UK recycling sector now generates more than £13 billion a year in sales of recycled materials, employs more than 40,000 people and contributes around £3 billion-worth of additional value each year to the UK economy."
She continued, "Given this progress you may be asking whether we still need Recycle Week. The truth is, there's still more we can all do to recycle more things, more often - to capture more of the valuable materials that are collected for recycling in our own home. For example, take the humble plastic bottle - householders are now recycling more than 50% of these and most councils now collect them. This is great news, but it means there's still half ending up in landfill."
Recycle Week runs until 23 June, and has a "recycle at home and away" theme. Ideas and information is available from: