SEPA blacklists firms for poor performance

Ciba, Ineos and Scottish Power are among 17 firms named by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as failing to meet satisfactory environmental management standards. Ciba has appealed against enforcement action that led to its poor rating.

SEPA blacklisted the companies in its annual listing of operator and pollution risk appraisal (OPRA) scores - a scheme which assesses industrial hazards and firms’ ability to manage them.

The scheme covers 277 industrial sites regulated under the pollution prevention and control (PPC) regime.1 Data for 2006 shows 6% failed the assessment (see table).

Although the same proportion of sites failed in 2006 as in 2005 (ENDS Report 377, p 16 ), the results show an improvement. This is because a growing number of sites now come under the scheme as PPC is implemented across Scotland.

Scores for more than 70 sites are reported for the first time - many in the food and intensive farming sectors which were not regulated before. To comply, operators in these sectors have improved management systems and pollution control techniques.

OPRA consists of a pollution hazard appraisal (PHA) and an operator performance appraisal (OPA).

PHA reflects the type of industrial process and the sensitivity of their location, and therefore tends to remain unchanged. Scores range from 7 to 35, with higher scores indicating greater hazard.

OPA - the more important element - varies to reflect how well a site is run, including management procedures and compliance. Scores range from 6 to 30, with low scores indicating a poorly run site. An operator fails the appraisal if it scores 1 or 2 for any aspect of the OPA.

One of the lowest OPA ratings went to Ciba Speciality Chemicals’ Paisley site. The company styles itself a "global leader, committed to being number one in all our chosen markets."

But in 2006, its site suffered several incidents including a fire and broken equipment caused by inadequate maintenance. There was also repeated failure of effluent monitoring equipment.

The incidents led SEPA to take enforcement action, but Ciba has appealed to the Scottish Executive. A company spokesman called the action "overly severe" and it maintains the incidents caused little or no environmental risk.

Ineos’s Grangemouth refinery received an enforcement notice after an unauthorised release of hydrogen sulphide from a flare caused odour complaints in October 2006. The flare was accidentally extinguished and a warning alarm had been disabled during an earlier overhaul.

An Ineos spokesman said the company is working to ensure that improvements agreed with SEPA are met.

Scottish Power’s Longannet station was served an enforcement notice for continuing to burn sewage waste in breach of the waste incineration Directive (ENDS Report 373, pp 10-11 ).

Grampian Country Food Group operates a factory in Coupar Angus which has been the subject of odour complaints. The company says its vision is to be "Europe’s most profitable, innovative and admired meat-based food company."

But SEPA points to problems with poor maintenance at the site and inspectors have issued two enforcement notices. A Grampian spokesman said improvements were under way.

Some companies are repeat offenders. In 2006, Norboard, SGL Technic, Lower Inchdrewer pig farm and North Ayrshire Council’s Garlaff landfill, at Skares, Aberdeenshire, were all named and shamed but apparently have yet to improve.

In 2005, Sacone Environmental’s Brechin abattoir was given a poor rating (ENDS Report 367, pp 3-5 ). This year it returns with the lowest OPA of all - just 9 out of 30.

SEPA says it served three enforcement notices in 2006 for maintenance and process management failures, and improvements have been made in recent months.

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