The Environment Agency have fined Tesco Stores Ltd £8 million for pollution which caused considerable risk of harm to people.
The fine relates to an incident at the beginning of July 2014, when more than 23,000 litres of petrol escaped from a filling tank at a petrol station operated by Tesco in the Haslingden area of Lancashire.
It resulted in petrol entering the sewerage system and residents up to a kilometre had to get medical attention due to headaches and sickness. Homes in the area were polluted with odours for many days.
The wildlife in the region was affected too, with Langwood Brook and the River Irwell suffering. Fish and other aquatic life died because of the incident, while anglers reported dead fish six miles downstream in Bury following the leakage over a period of approximately 29 hours.
An investigation into the incident found that Tesco had failed to address an issue they knew about regarding part of a fuel delivery system, and an inadequate alarm system, while poor emergency procedures worsened the incident.
Mark Easedale is an Environment Manager for the Environment Agency. He believes the sentencing “sends a clear message.”
He said: “This pollution incident had a dramatically negative impact on the local community and the environment with Langwood Brook and the River Irwell severely affected.
“A week after the pollution incident an investigation by Environment Agency officers found fish populations in the River Irwell immediately downstream of Langwood Brook were around 90% lower than those found upstream.
“The sentencing today sends out a clear message to anyone whose recklessness causes serious pollution to the environment – we will be relentless in our investigations and take action wherever needed.”
Of the total £8 million fine, £5 million was handed out for health and safety reasons, and the other £3 million because of the environmental nature of the offence.