Minerals giant pays out £100,000 after toxic chemical pollution

31st January 2017

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  • Chemicals ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water ,
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  • Corporate fine


Chris Clarke

Imerys Minerals has been fined £75,000 and must pay £25,000 in costs after polluting a river with a hazardous chemical.

Truro Crown Court was told the French-owned company ignored manufacturer’s warnings when it chose to let almost 500 litres of a hazardous chemical enter one of its pollution treatment systems in July 2013.

The company was cleaning out a redundant storage tank at its Rocks Dryers site near St Austell, Cornwall, which contained an estimated 474 litres of Jayfloc 85. The chemical is a flocculent used in china clay processing and is classified as hazardous and harmful to aquatic life. The manufacturer’s guidelines say the chemical should not be allowed to enter drains, surface waters or groundwater due to its toxicity. But Imerys staff flushed the chemical out of the tank and into the site’s effluent treatment system, which includes a series of settlement lagoons. They believed it would be heavily diluted before entering Rocks Stream, a tributary of the River Par, although they did not carry out a risk assessment for the task.

In a statement, Imerys stressed the incident did not cause any environmental damage, and said it had made changes to its procedures to try and ensure there was no repeat event. ‘Imerys takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and has a good track record of compliance and cooperation with the regulators in what is a challenging and environmentally sensitive industrial sector,’ it added.


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