British Steel convicted in key case for HMIP

British Steel clocked up its fifth conviction for a pollution offence within 14 months on 23 October. The latest case, involving an excessive emission of fume from its steel works at Llanwern, near Newport, was probably the most important prosecution brought by HM Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) since it began flexing its legal muscles a year ago.

In the past, a company's failure to use the "best practicable means" (BPM) to abate emissions to air rarely resulted in a prosecution. It was more common for HMIP or its predecessors to issue a letter of infraction or an improvement notice under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 - though even this was done infrequently. Even in cases where a company turned in a poor performance over a lengthy period HMIP rarely resorted to the courts.

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