Minor pollution incident costs chipboard firm £30,000

Over the past year or so the courts have begun to take heed of the higher fines for pollution offences made available by recent environmental legislation. The trend towards stiffer penalties was highlighted by the £20,000 fine imposed in June on chipboard producer Egger (UK) for what all parties agreed was a minor water pollution incident.

The incident occurred in February 1991 as the company, a subsidiary of the Austrian firm Fritz Egger, was constructing a sump to prevent contaminated surface water from entering the river Tyne from its site at Hexham.

A visiting National Rivers Authority (NRA) officer noticed a brown patch in the river 100 metres in length. Investigations revealed that the sump had filled with run-off from the construction site and the company's staff had

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