United Utilities fined £75,000 for environmental regulation breaches at Davyhulme water plant (From Messenger Newspapers)
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United Utilities fined £75,000 for environmental regulation breaches at Davyhulme water plant
10:02am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
UNITED Utilities has been fined £75,000 for breaching environmental permitting regulations at the Davyhulme waste water treatment works at Manchester Crown Court.
The decision was reached following an appeal by UU against the fines.
The company had previously pleaded guilty to five breaches of Environmental Permitting Regulations at its site in Rivers Lane, Urmston, arising out of two separate incidents.
The Environment Agency’s prosecution followed investigations which began when the company reported a fire at the site on December 9, 2010. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it had attended a well-developed fire caused by flammable gas and air mixed together within a filter system.
The investigation established a unit to treat siloxanes – residue which builds up in engines and reduces efficiency – had caught fire and exploded. Subsequent investigations showed permit conditions had been breached.
Between April 28 and December 9, 2010 the company had not operated the siloxane plant in accordance with its permit as it had not obtained the Environment Agency’s written approval to install two carbon filters and blank off the stack at the plant.
Further investigations established the company had no formal procedures in place for start up or the shutdown of the siloxane plant, emergencies or maintenance.
Following the December 2010 fire, the Environment Agency served an enforcement notice on the company in November 2011.
Another investigation was launched when the Environment Agency became aware that subsequent to the first incident and service of the notice, the company had installed a temporary odour control unit at the works without first obtaining the required variation to the company’s permit, resulting in further breaches of the permit conditions.
United Utilities pleaded guilty to two breaches of permit conditions between April 28, 2010 and December 9, 2010 and another three breaches in 2012. The company had previously been ordered to pay costs of £18,980 at Trafford Magistrates Court.
Dave Marshall, of the Environment Agency, said: “The environmental permitting regulations are in place to provide protection to the environment and prevent harm to the public. While United Utilities has a strong track record in environmental performance, in this case there were serious failings by the company to adhere to conditions of its environmental permit. “We are working together to ensure the site operates in accordance with its permits.”
A spokesman for United Utilities said: "The appeal hearing at Manchester Crown Court on Friday was won by United Utilities and the fine was reduced from £150,000 to £75,000.
“We appealed the original fine because we believed it was disproportionate, given that the risk of any impact on the environment was relatively low.
"We welcome the court’s recognition of this fact, and we have revised our administrative procedures so that technical permit breaches like this cannot happen again.”
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