Hazardous waste firm Tradebe Solvent Recycling Ltd has been ordered to pay £38,960 following a chemical leak at its Hendon Dock site in Sunderland.
Tradebe, of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to comply with an environmental permit condition at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on 21 December.
The Court heard this month how on 8 January 2015, a Tradebe employee was tasked with moving around 23,500 litres of isoprophyl alcohol from a road tanker barrel into one of the site’s fixed storage tankers.
Tradebe specialises in the recycling of a wide variety of chemicals, however isoprophyl alcohol is not regarded as a hazardous chemical.
Three valves were opened during the operation, with two manually operated and the last one, a remote shut off valve, operated from a control room.
The court was told that once the transfer of the chemical was complete, one of the manual valves was not properly closed and a connecting hose was left in place rather than being removed and an end cap fitted. It was left overnight and also not spotted by the next day’s incoming shift.
A shift manager noticed a leak from a pump due to the valve not being properly closed, which had collected into a sump in a walled-off area, the Environment Agency said. Tradebe immediately reported the spill to the Agency.
A subsequent Agency investigation found management systems and operating procedures were ‘deficient’, including no formal inspections for pipes and sumps, and an inadequate operating procedure for transfer of liquid chemicals.
The court heard that around 4,000 litres of isoprophyl alcohol had leaked from the tank, with some seeping into groundwater. Tradebe was fined £27,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,960.
During sentencing, District Judge Roger Elsey said the incident occurred due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances. He added there was significant mitigation and he was impressed by the efforts of the company to make changes, and their acceptance that further work is needed.
A spokesperson for Tradebe said: “As a socially and environmentally responsible company we fully regret the incident that occurred and accept the findings of the court. We were heartened by the judge’s comments recognising that this was an unfortunate set of events, and the recognition of the improvements we have made since.
As a socially and environmentally responsible company we fully regret the incident that occurred
“We have worked in close cooperation with the Environment Agency to develop an outline industry best practice for the design and inspection of tertiary containment systems and look forward to sharing this widely with the sector.”
Andrew Clark, of the Environment Agency, said: “While tests showed IPA was found in the groundwater at elevated concentrations, it is considered to be low risk to health and the environment as it rapidly biodegrades in water. But if this had involved a more dangerous chemical the results could have been far worse.
“The company were co-operative during the investigation and have been working to improve their management and operating systems to reduce the risk of something like this happening again future.”
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Source: letsrecycle.com Waste Managment