Chemical firm receives £10,000 fine

Chemical firm GW Chemicals has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,806 by Halifax Magistrates Court for causing contaminated water to enter the Canker Dyke in Elland.

The company, which manufactures cleaning products, was prosecuted by the Environment Agency for pollution of Canker Dyke, which is a tributary of the River Calder.

An Environment Agency officer first visited the site in January 2005, following a public complaint, when foam was spotted on the surface of Canker Dyke at

Elland Lane
. An inspection at GW Chemicals’ drains on site identified that the production part of the drain was damaged and a request was made for urgent repair. GW Chemicals was ordered to make the necessary repairs, but further inspection in March 2005 found that the foam was still present.

Tests undertaken by the Environment Agency identified GW Chemicals as the source of the pollution, and that the initial repairs had been ineffective. There had been significant deterioration in the water quality of a 1.2 km stretch of Canker Dyke for three months. The amount of detergents in the dyke measured 50 times higher than any result recorded since 1999, which when combined with increased alkalinity had the potential to be toxic to plants and wildlife. However, there has been no evidence of permanent harm to fish stocks or wildlife.

Speaking after the case, Dave Tempest, Environment Agency officer, said, “The pollution of the Canker Dyke caused concern because of the potential harm to habitat and water quality, as well as its close proximity to residential and wetland areas. It is fortunate that in this case there is no lasting damage and pond life can recover within six months.”

In mitigation, GW Chemicals told the court they thought the sealed unit they used for the by-products of the detergents was foolproof, and had not had a problem with the system for their 28 years of operation.

When contacted, the company reacted promptly and carried out costly repairs. GW Chemicals very much regretted the pollution to the dyke. When sentencing, the magistrate said he was giving the company credit for their change of plea, but stressed that the company had no strict maintenance programme in place to avoid such an environmental incident.