Esso fined £10k for avoidable oil spill

27th September 2011

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  • Energy ,
  • Management ,
  • Corporate fine ,
  • Prosecution



International oil company Esso has been fined £10,000 after inspection and maintenance failures resulted in hundreds of gallons of oil leaking into a protected estuary.

Southampton Magistrates Court was told that Esso had not met the high maintenance standards required at its Fawley refinery in Hampshire, where a corroded pipe released 400 gallons of oil into the Southampton Water estuary in June 2010.

Despite the company’s pollution containment measures, the oil entered the estuary, which is designated as a special protection area under European legislation, and reached the opposite shore.

John Massie from the Environment Agency (EA), which brought the prosecution, said that Esso had put the environmentally sensitive surroundings at needless risk through its organisational failures.

“This incident is especially disappointing because there have been similar spills from this marine terminal before in 2005 and again in January 2010,” he said. “Therefore the EA feels that Esso has not inspected and maintained these pipelines to the high standard which it expects.”

The oil company pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations and was ordered to pay a £10,000 fine and costs of more than £2,500, on top of the £150,000 it claims to have spent cleaning up the pollution.

After the incident, Esso carried out an inspection of all 270km of pipelines at the Fawley terminal under instructions from the EA and has since given the agency assurances that regular maintenance will take place in the future.

The Fawley plant is the second largest in Europe and provides 20% of the UK’s refinery capacity.


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