Agency imposes £30,000 penalty for waste firm’s oil pollution

Blocking a fuel pipe with a piece of wood has led to a Devon waste management firm’s second fine for polluting a stream.

The incident occurred at Ruby Waste Management’s waste transfer station and former landfill site at Abbotskerswell, near Newtown Abbot, in January this year.

The Environment Agency visited the site after receiving a report that a neighbouring stream, the Aller Brook, had been contaminated with fuel. An officer found the source of the spill to be a 3,600-litre diesel tank that a contractor had poorly stoppered by using some timber. Company director Anthony Small admitted this was common practice and estimated that about 135-160 litres of fuel had been lost.

The Environment Agency told Totnes magistrates the spillage could have been as much as 1,800 litres. The tank had been filled on the day of the spill and was found to be between half and two thirds full after the incident.

The fuel had run down a slope into a sump and then been piped into a tributary of the stream. It could be seen in puddles and on the ground around the tank.

Ruby Waste Management pleaded guilty to causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters, contrary to section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991; and contravening its waste management licence, contrary to section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The firm was fined a total of £28,000 with £2,276 costs.

The company was fined £24,000 with £2,000 costs in October for polluting the same stream with leachate.