Abattoir fined £26k for polluting river

12th February 2014

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  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Control ,
  • Water ,
  • Environment agencies



Stirling sheriff court heard that management failings at Scotbeef's Bridge of Allen site led to twice the amount of manure and slurry being stored than was permitted

On 29 January 2013, after complaints of pollution in a nearby waterway, an officer from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) visited Scotbeef’s plant on the outskirts of Stirling, which processes 2,500 cattle and 15,000 lambs each week. The officer found that the site’s manure and slurry storage area had been overfilled and that the organic waste covered the pad in front of the concrete pit as well as the access track leading to the area.

It was at a low point in the track that the effluent was escaping into a tributary of the River Allan. Further investigation revealed that the pollution gave rise to clumps of fungus growing up to 650m away from the leak.

In a subsequent visit, a Sepa officer discovered that while the slurry was no longer discharging in to the waterway, there remained too much waste in the area. Sepa issued an enforcement notice, requiring Scotbeef take action to ensure the site complied with its pollution control permit.

On 12 February 2013, the abattoir was found to have failed to comply with the notice.

Prosecutor Shona McJannett told the court that freezing weather had prevented the firm from spreading the manure as it would normally do, but that allowing the contents to build up to twice the amount it was supposed to contain was “a clear management failure”. “This pollution was totally avoidable,” she said.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching its environmental permit for the site and to failing to meet an enforcement notice. It was fined £26,250.

Sepa’s investigating officer Callum Waddell commented: “Scotbeef should have made arrangements for a specialist contractor to empty the waste when the storage facility was getting full as it had become clear that, due to weather conditions, the materials could not be spread on land. However the company failed to arrange this more expensive option until Sepa became involved.

“Effluent discharges can be highly polluting in terms of water quality and aesthetics [and] can have an adverse effect on the ecosystem of a watercourse including invertebrates and fish. The fungus identified in the tributary of the River Allan, downstream of the Scotbeef abattoir, is indicative of very high levels of organic pollution.”

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