Veolia (ES) UK Ltd, who run a hazardous waste treatment facility in Bootle, has today (13 January) been fined £101,000 for an incident in April 2006 which caused the release of toxic fumes. The fumes led to four members of staff receiving medical treatment, and several members of the public reporting side effects. The company has also been ordered to pay costs of £65,000.
Veolia ES (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to eight charges brought against them in a joint prosecution by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.
On 27 April 2006 the site breach a number of conditions of its waste management licence. The site accepted waste, which it was not permitted to hold, and then stored this with another chemical substance. The resulting reaction caused toxic fumes to be released which affected members of staff and the public. The situation was made worse because the emergency plans which the company had in place where not followed, were inadequate, and hindered the emergency services.
Since the incident the company has carried out a full review of its procedures, and put in place safeguards to ensure this will not happen again.
Mark Easedale from the Environment Agency said, “This incident highlights the importance of ensuring correct procedures are followed to ensure there is no harm to the environment when hazardous waste is being handled. This was a serious incident which could easily have been avoided. ”
Health and Safety Executive Inspector Daniel Longdon said: “This prosecution should act as a warning to waste treatment operators. This was a totally avoidable incident had the proper procedures been in place and it was only through good fortune that the consequences were not more serious.”