Salvesen peas in drain – Company to pay £23,000

Environment Agency News Release

Three times in three months waste from a vegetable factory run by Salvesen Logistics Ltd in Bourne, Lincolnshire escaped into nearby drains polluting the water and killing hundreds of fish.

Bourne Magistrates today (Wednesday 12th September, 2007) fined the company a total of  £17,000  and ordered them to pay full Environment Agency costs of £5,008 after they pleaded guilty to three offences of polluting Tunnel Bank Drain and Partition Drain.

Christian Salvesen Distribution Ltd, a sister company of Salvesens, has a Discharge Consent for the discharge of trade effluent into the Tunnel Bank Drain and/or the Partition Drain. The three offences breached that consent.

The first offence took place on 4 July 2006 when black bubbling liquid and peas were found in Tunnel Bank Drain affecting the water for about two miles. Hundreds of dead and gasping small fish were found downstream of the Salvesens site behind Riddles Scrap Yard.

Environment Agency officers investigating the pollution traced the source to the site where there had been a spillage. In the yard were puddles of green liquid with peas in it which was able to get into a surface water drain and then into the watercourse. Managers at the site were advised to contact the Internal Drainage Board to arrange for a dam to be built to stop the pollution reaching the River Glen.

Salvesen managers said the problem had arisen when a collection pit which collects waste water from its own factory and from Bourne Stir Fry prior to treatment had overflowed into the surface water drain and onto the factory grounds.

The company believed that the pumps had failed because they had been subjected to increased wear and tear from a crop of peas from a new source which contained more stones. Despite covering some drains there were not enough covers and preventative measures were not effective, Magistrates were told.

More covers have since been bought and the pumps have been refurbished and fitted with pressure gauges.

On 13 July a problem with the Salvesen effluent treatment plant was reported to the Environment Agency. A failure during the night meant that dirty water was being discharged into the Partition Drain instead of cleaned up water from the processing.

One production line had already been closed down and another was being closed down. Fourteen emergency tankers were used to remove activated sludge from the process and lime was added to the sludge tank.

On 24 July there was a further problem with the plant resulting in rising sludge levels. Salvesens stopped discharging for about three hours.

A similar problem to the 13 July had arisen but this time Salvesens reduced operations and sent peas to Grimsby and North Thoresby as all three process lines were closed for some time.
An Environment Agency biologist observed that there had been a severe impact on the invertebrate community indicating raised levels of ammonia and less dissolved oxygen in the water. It appeared that the discharge had been having an adverse effect on the Partition Drain from some time.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer David Hutchinson said: ‘This case demonstrates that companies who cause serious pollution incidents run the risk of being prosecuted. All companies must ensure that they can operate without polluting the environment.

‘Contingency plans should be in place for events such as equipment failure and spillages to minimise their environmental impact. I would advise companies to have a look at our quick and easy, ‘is your site right guide?’ at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ppg’

Salvesen pleaded guilty to:

  1. On or about 4 July 2006 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Tunnel Bank Drain at Bourne, Lincolnshire. Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991
    Fined £10,000
  2. On or about 13 July 2006 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Partition Drain at Bourne, Lincolnshire. Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991
    Fined £3,500
  3. On or about 24 July 2006 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Partition Drain at Bourne, Lincolnshire. Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991
    Fined £3,500