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UK transport company calls Environment Agency oil leak fines unjust

03 June 2013

Transport company Westram faces a £23,000 fine and court costs of £5,300 after pleading guilty to four pollution offences. But the company says it was the victim of a criminal offence, which led to Diesel from its Scunthorpe site polluting a nearby river. The company says the oil leak was caused during a break-in at the site, with the perpetrators attempting to steal fuel. 

When yard staff arrived for work in the morning they found a tap on a fuel tank had been left partially open and was dripping fuel. The tap was turned off and the member of staff immediately reported it. Between 200 and 500 litres were missing from the tank, and some was found to have entered a nearby river.

The company said immediate action was taken to rectify the damage, with costs of £45,000 voluntarily incurred by the firm to clean up the waterway after the incident in January 2011.

A spokesman for Westram said the firm admitted the charges  but felt the fine was unfair, adding that the penalty "threatens the continued employment of its employees and growth of business in the region." The firm employs around 140 people and the fine will put three positions at risk.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "We have dealt with the case professionally and fairly at all stages. In this case, as in all others, our decision to prosecute followed full consideration of the evidence and public interest factors in accordance with our enforcement and sanctions statement."

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