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Purple Rain – 'a timely reminder to act responsibly'

13 December 2018
Regulatory Compliance
A cardboard box company based in Somerset has been ordered to pay £13,000 in fines and costs after an investigation by the Environment Agency ('EA') found that a worker at Ablebox Ltd dumped up to 50 buckets of waste ink down a drain, turning up to 4km of the River Yeo purple. The company had been warned previously about polluting the river.  Upon inspecting the premises, the EA found inappropriately stored containers of waste ink and said "this prosecution served as a timely reminder to businesses to act responsibly".

Although maybe a 'deliberate' act resulted in this pollution, the majority of instances of water pollution arise from accidental spillages or leaks from storage containers that are not maintained properly.  Most large scale businesses store or transport liquid products, chemicals or fuels in one form or another  which if spilt, could result in an environmental issue that is reportable to the EA.  But would you know what to do if it happened to you? Do you have an environmental management plan in place? Would you be covered for the huge clean-up costs? How would you deal with the regulators?

With nearly all pollution offences being strict liability, it is important to mitigate your position as quickly as possible.  Since the introduction of the Sentencing Councils Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline, we have seen a huge increase in the level of fines being imposed by the Courts, resulting in 2017 with Tesco receiving a £3 million fine for a 'petrol leak' and Thames Water being fined £23 million for numerous 'water spills'.

DWF have experience of dealing with environmental disasters and can help you prepare in advance and mitigate the risks, manage an incident through our crisis response or provide training on how to respond in the event of such an incident.

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