26 October 2009

Firm fined over £14,000 for ammonia leak in stream

ADAMS Pork Products was fined more than £14,000 for polluting a stream with ammonia from its refrigeration units.
Firm fined over £14,000 for ammonia leak in stream
Ammonia from the company’s refrigeration units at Ruskington, escaped into a stream during maintenance work, poisoning more than 100 fish, Grantham Magistrates' court heard.

Adams Pork Products pleaded guilty to causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, namely ammonia, to enter controlled waters (namely a tributary of the Ruskington Beck) and was fined £10,000 on October 22 and ordered to pay £4,393 costs.

In May 2008, the company had supplied a container of water to its contractor WR Refrigeration which was carrying out a routine maintenance check on its refrigeration units. During the maintenance, the container was used by WR Refrigeration to filter ammonia gas through water, but the container used was not watertight.

The ammonia leaked down a drain into a stream, a tributary of Ruskington Beck, polluting 2.5km of watercourse.

The sight of masses of dead fish floating on their backs downstream resulted in a member of the public reported the incident to the Environment Agency.

Investigating officers traced the pollution back to a pipe leading from Adam Pork Products site.

Steve Bowling, site director at the time of the offence, told Environment Agency officers they had been unaware there was a drain in the area where the container was sited. He said that they had relied on the specialist expertise of their contractors.

The Environment agency said that Adams Pork Products had few procedures in place to deal with the incident or prevent it happening, did not know the full extent of the site's drainage and had not checked what the container was to be used for.

Environment Agency investigating officer James Brackenbury said: 'Adams did not have enough procedures in place to deal with this incident resulting in the water having a level of ammonia 24 times higher than could be expected in the poorest quality watercourse.'

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