Shell ordered to pay £20,000 for leak

Shell UK Oil Products Ltd has been fined for a diesel leak that polluted a Hampshire stream and lake.

The Environment Agency received a report in January 2007 that the Holly Water and Conford Park Lake near Liphook were polluted with oil. The oil was traced to a surface water outfall draining the Shell Southbound Services on the A3. The company found pinholes in a corroded underground pipe leading from a diesel tank to a forecourt pump.

On 24 September, the company appeared before Aldershot magistrates to admit to causing oil to pollute controlled waters, contrary to section 85(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

The Agency told the court the oil could have leaked out of the pipe into soil and then surface water drains or passed along the outside of the drains to the stream. But Shell said it suspected the pollution was cause by illegal dumping into the drainage system by a third party.

In either event, the strict liability provisions in the 1991 Act meant the company was responsible. Shell was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,118.

The Agency said after the hearing that the incident’s impact would have been minimised if the site had had pollution incident response and site drainage plans.