ICI's Runcorn site faces trouble over EC water standards

The National Rivers Authority (NRA) has warned the Department of the Environment (DoE) that EC environmental quality standards (EQSs) for several chlorinated chemicals are likely to be breached in a canal next to ICI's Runcorn site because of the company's discharges. The breaches would expose the UK to prosecution by the European Commission, but ICI is delaying environmental improvements at the works because of the shrinking market for chlorine products.

The Runcorn site is the heart of ICI Chemicals and Polymers' chlorine chemicals business. Three years ago, the company began studies which were expected to result in a multi-million pound investment to improve its effluent management facilities (ENDS Report 170, pp 10-12). But the expenditures have yet to materialise.

Meanwhile, the need for action has become urgent. ICI has been prosecuted four times by the NRA in the last six months for

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