The latest prosecution by the Environment Agency of a filling station operator has resulted in a record fine of £8 million. The Environment Agency’s investigation found the leak resulted from the operator’s failure to address a known issue with the fuel delivery system and an inadequate alarm system. It was compounded by “poor” emergency procedures. The leak affected local residents and local watercourses, with leaked fuel entering the Langwood Brook resulting in fish kill. County councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The fact the leak was allowed to continue for more than 24 hours undoubtedly contributed to a risk of harm to people living and working nearby, as well as emergency services attending the incident.”
We believe that this case marks a change in approach from the Environment Agency, with a focus on prosecution under health and safety legislation rather than the available environmental regulations. The resulting fine of £8 million was significantly higher than fines levied for similar incidents prosecuted for polluting controlled waters.
Further details can be found here.