Grangemouth Firms Fined for Pollution

16.01.2017 -

Scotland’s environmental protection agency, SEPA, has issued fines to 383 industrial companies or sites – including Ineos, BP and Syngenta at Grangemouth – for their “poor” or “very poor” performance on pollution or safety. With the fines, the environmental watchdog said it was targeting “serial offenders,” adding that “every action will be taken to ensure compliance is achieved.” The companies, in their defense, pointed to otherwise good environmental credentials and commitments.

The Petroineos refinery at Grangemouth, operated by a joint venture between Ineos and Petrochina, was classed as poor because of what the agency said was a “significant breach” of its pollution permit, which had caused “a prolonged offensive odor from the site affecting a wide area” in December 2015.

Petroineos also was given an official ultimatum to improve safety, after the Scottish

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) accused it of failing to take “all measures necessary” to prevent major accidents. The company has until April of this year to comply or face further action. In particular, the HSE said the refinery operator had not assured inspection and maintenance of hand held, portable electrical equipment used in hazardous areas to control the risk of ignition of “flammable atmospheres.”

The British-Chinese jv said it has already taken steps to deal with the situation.

Two other plants at Grangemouth, BP’s at Kinnei oil terminal and a facility operated by Swiss agrochemicals producer Syngenta were also cited. SEPA said the BP plant had prolonged flaring and noise complaints, due to “breakdowns and process upsets,” and the Syngenta unit had “extensive drain defects” resulting in groundwater contamination.

In its defense, BP stressed the good performance of most of its plants in Scotland, adding that that over the past year it had been working to improve ground flare capabilities at Grangemouth. Syngenta, while acknowledging “a 2015 drainage problem,” said it had isolated the affected drains and worked with specialist contractors to repair them.

Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Scotland called on SEPA to get “much tougher” with repeat offenders, adding: “It is simply unacceptable in the 21st century that people still need to worry about whether the company next to their community is poisoning them.”