Waste firm to pay £68,500 after liquid cyanide leak in Derbyshire


Waste crime

A waste company has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £52,500 in costs after liquid cyanide escaped from a ruptured tank on a lorry into nearby ponds and killed fish.

J & G Environmental Ltd of Fareham, Hampshire, had previously pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to the charge of causing an illegal water discharge, which the Environment Agency estimated cost them around £50,000 to clear up.

The incident occurred on 6 February 2018 when the lorry’s driver ruptured the container while moving it using a forklift truck. Hundreds of litres of the liquid, which contained diluted cyanide, leaked onto the floor before entering the drainage system and natural waterways.

The Fire Service cordoned off the area and set up decontamination protocols while Environment Agency officers tried to stop the flow of water from nearby ponds. The officers also took samples from the dead fish and found all 73 sent for testing died from cyanide poisoning.

We welcome this sentence as this was a serious pollution which caused considerable disruption besides fish deaths.

J & G Environmental are contractors offering waste collection and disposal to the printing, photographic and healthcare industries. On the day of the incident, the company had collected the waste liquid from the Rolls Royce base.

During the sentencing, Judge Michael Auty noted that the company had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty to the offence. The Environment Agency said Auty also took into account the efforts made by the company more widely to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

The Judge added that it was unfortunate that the driver was unable to provide any detail of the nature of the liquid being transported and that the absence or availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) created a risk to its employees.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency commented: “We welcome this sentence as this was a serious pollution which caused considerable disruption besides fish deaths.

“The Environment Agency will pursue any company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature and will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties. Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment and harm human health.”

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