Hotpoint Peterborough goes up in flames
Hotpoint HQ caught fire at the end of August, a blaze that saw a series of massive explosions with the risk of toxic fumes and of course water pollution from the firewater runoff. The inferno generated a massive plume of thick black smoke that billowed over Peterborough. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
A commercial fire this big is fairly unusual and with locals describing the effects as ‘apocalyptic’. There was dust everywhere, the ground was shaking and the air was full of debris and ash. As many as 20 explosions shook the premises, none of the actual buildings were affected since the fire apparently started in parked HGV trailers that were full of spare parts, with the blaze spreading to about 30 of them. The police are investigating the cause.
Our interest as always is with the threat of water pollution and these are precisely the threats that we deal with as these incidents, precisely like this one, most often happen in the tertiary area. Unfortunately, we have been in conversation with Hotpoint, proposing an automated pollution containment system but things haven’t progressed to the point where this was implemented.
Even though it appears that this event was caused by a criminal act of vandalism with arrests having been made, unfortunately, that is not a defence if they face an Environment Agency investigation and legal proceedings. This appears to be a reminder for us all that these risks are real and require more immediate attention and action.
Convicted waste criminal sentenced to 16 years in jail
Terry Soloman Dugbo is serving a record 7 years and 6-month jail sentence for defrauding the electrical waste recycling industry of £2.2 million in 2016 after an Environment Agency investigation. He was ordered to pay back more than £1.3 million of the £2.2 million he illegally acquired, as well as more than £79,000 from another incident back in 2011 and over £17,000 from VAT fraud in 2015.
Dugbo failed to pay anything towards the £1.3 million order and made ‘insufficient payments’ towards the other two. Now the courts have said there’s ‘no realistic prospect’ of Dugbo paying the outstanding amount, and they’ve added another 8 years to his prison sentence. Dugbo will serve the extra eight years after he’s finished his current sentence, unless he pays the money back in the meantime.
Southern Water staff convicted of lying
The latest in a long-running water pollution prevention scandal has seen employees of Southern Water convicted of obstructing an investigation into the company by the Environment Agency. The news has just been released after a long criminal investigation into Southern Water over alleged environmental pollution, an investigation that’s still ongoing.
Earlier this year Southern was forced to pay a record £126 million in fines and penalties for ‘serious failures at sewage treatment sites’ and also for lying to the industry watchdog Ofwat about the reporting of environmental data.
Farming bucks the water pollution trend
According to Farmer’s Weekly, the most recent quarterly figures on serious pollution in England reveal that farming is actually bucking the trend during 2018-19, the only industry to cause fewer incidents than it did in 2017-18. The Environment Agency data shows farmers were responsible for 6% fewer incidents than the previous year, against a landscape where we’ve seen an overall 23% increase in pollution cases.
The biggest increase was down to illegal waste management, which saw a 59% hike and 78 reported pollution incidents during the same period. Illegal waste sites continue to be an issue and some areas are also seeing increases in illegal dumping.
Stay safe from disaster – Know the risks, mitigate the risks, sleep better.
Even a relatively small industrial leak, fire or spill can cause havoc to the environment. It clearly makes no sense to ignore the risks and carry on regardless. Speak to us about effective water pollution prevention, you will find it much more achievable, affordable and way less disruptive than you might imagine if you have been proposed more traditional solutions.
David Cole MSEE
David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.