Biffa fined £105k after pollution reaches aquifer

12th March 2013


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water ,
  • Waste

Author

IEMA

One of the UK's largest waste management firms has been fined £105,000, and ordered to pay more than £26,900 in costs, after decomposed waste from one of its landfill sites leaked into a source of drinking water for residents of Sunderland

Biffa Waste Services pleaded guilty to five counts of breaching its environmental permit during 2010 and 2011, when leachate from its Houghton Le Spring site escaped the landfill’s protective lining and into groundwater.

Leachate is a liquid containing toxic substances produced by decomposing organic matter and, under environmental permits, must be controlled by landfill operators. However, after the substance was found in groundwater near the Houghton Le Spring landfill site in April 2010, an Environment Agency investigation discovered that the construction of an access road had damaged the site’s lining system, enabling the leachate to escape.

Biffa had discovered the escape, but it failed to notify the regulator, which is also a requirement of the site’s permit. And, on a separate occasion, inadequate controls at the site resulted in a leachate storage tank overflowing and spilling the liquid out of the site.

Graham Donachie, pollution prevention team leader at the Environment Agency, said that management failings on the site had contributed to the pollution. “This case highlights the need for landfill operators to have in place effective and comprehensive operating and monitoring practices,” he said.

Biffa apologised for the incidents and confirmed that, while the aquifer had been affected by the leachate, there would be no impact on the safety of drinking water.

The firm has since undertaken remediation work, including working with the agency to design a new access road; continuing to remove and treat the contaminated water; and increased monitoring of groundwater.


Transform articles

Regulator publishes new code to tackle 'greenwashing'

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The UK government must develop regulation to stop the financial sector from providing billions of pounds to companies that threaten rainforests worldwide, WWF has said.

10th September 2021

Read more

Over two million hectares of Brazilian rainforest could be legally converted to supply the UK with soy under a new anti-deforestation law proposed by the government, the WWF has found.

26th August 2021

Read more

The Better Business Act would put responsibility to society and the environment on the same footing as responsibility to shareholders, explains Chris Turner

30th July 2021

Read more

In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

30th July 2021

Read more

Thames Water has been fined £4m after untreated sewage escaped from sewers below London into a park and a river.

30th July 2021

Read more

In R. (on the application of Hudson) v Windsor and Maidenhead RBC, the appellant appealed against a decision to uphold the local authority’s grant of planning permission for the construction of a holiday village at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

28th May 2021

Read more

Are voluntary commitments enough to make the private sector act on waste? David Burrows explores the issues

28th May 2021

Read more

Government announcements on infrastructure reveal a direction of travel but key details are still unknown, says Huw Morris

29th January 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert