Tesco fined £8 million over petrol leak into river

19th July 2017

P12 legal istock 503519576

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management



Supermarket chain Tesco has been slapped with a substantial fine over a petrol leak, polluting the River Irwell.

Of the £8 million fine, only £3 million accounted for the environmental offence, which saw the river polluted within a 10 mile radius and over 40 dead fish within a 2 mile vicinity.

Between Wednesday 2 July and Thursday 3 July 2014, nearly 24,000 litres of petrol escaped from a petrol filling tank at a petrol station in Haslingden operated by Tesco.

It entered the sewerage system and the odours affected residents up to 1km away, causing headaches and sickness. Some of the petrol also entered Langwood Brook, as well as the River Irwell, causing a significant environmental impact.

An investigation was carried out jointly by the Environment Agency and partners, and the leak spawned a large emergency clean-up, with assistance from bodies such as Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Police.

Tesco was found to have failed to address a known problem with its fuel delivery system, which was compounded by poor emergency procedures.

Tesco’s fuel division has a reported turnover of £5.5 billion. The fine was broken into two parts: first, £3 million for causing a water discharge activity not authorised under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, and second, £5 million for breaching the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The fine, the largest for a single incident of pollution, shows the weight of the sentencing guidelines for environmental and health and safety offences, which relates the size of the fine to business turnover. It seems Tesco was tried under a category 1 harm, and classed as a large company turnover, and has paid a hefty price for its failings.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Latest environmental legislation round-up

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Environmental crimes could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years and company fines of 5% of turnover under a proposed EU law agreed by the European parliament and council.

21st November 2023

Read more

Stuart McLachlan and Dean Sanders discuss their book: The Adventure of Sustainable Performance: Beyond ESG Compliance to Leadership in the New Era.

14th November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

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

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close