Record fine for Shell sends signal to polluters

The record £1 million fine imposed by Liverpool Crown Court on Shell UK on 23 February for polluting the Mersey with oil has given the National Rivers Authority (NRA) the support it was seeking from the courts for its promised crackdown on polluters. The fine came just weeks after the Government slipped an amendment into its Environmental Protection Bill to increase the fines which magistrates can apply.

The NRA's prosecution of Shell was the first it has taken to the Crown Court. The case followed a leakage of 156 tonnes of crude oil into the Mersey on 19 August from a corroded section of pipeline linking an oil terminal in Tranmere with Shell's Stanlow refinery.

Seven tonnes of the total spillage escaped into the river after the company pumped light oil and then water through the pipe, against the advice of fire and local authority offi

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