Construction industry told to crackdown on water pollution

The construction and demolition industry was responsible for more than 120 cases of pollution that caused environmental damage to waterways in England and Wales in 2006.

Businesses in the industry were reminded on Monday that they should plan carefully to prevent pollution of watercourses – and avoid costly clean up bills and fines – as the Environment Agency published new pollution prevention guidelines.

The guidelines aim to offer construction businesses simple steps they can take to assess potential problems and identify steps to prevent any incidents.

Steve Wenham, technical advisor at the Environment Agency, said: “In 2006, the construction industry was responsible for 271 pollution incidents causing environmental damage, of which 123 were to water.

“Of these, 18 incidents were serious, causing significant damage to watercourses.

“These incidents are not only damaging to our environment, but it can leave the responsible company with an expensive clean up bill.

“Under the law, those who pollute our environment have to pay the clean up costs.

“Where there has been serious pollution, the Environment Agency will prosecute, which can lead to heavy fines.”

Silt, oil and chemical spills from construction and demolition works can all pollute watercourses – which includes lakes, reservoirs and canals.

Poor waste management, such as incorrect storage of hazardous waste such as oil and solvents, can also result in water pollution.

The Pollution Prevention Guidelines includes advice on topics such as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) to control surface water runoff, safe use of concrete and cement, and safe use of herbicides.

It also provides information on what businesses should do and who they should contact if pollution does occur.

The guidelines are available to download free here. Alternatively, businesses can call the Environment Agency on 08708 506506.

Kate Martin

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