Environment Agency launches new labelling scheme for ‘non-hazardous’ pollutants

The Environment Agency has launched a new labelling scheme designed to identify substances in transit which are classified as ‘non-hazardous’, but which can cause some of the worst pollution incidents.


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The targeted substances include milk, beer and other food stuffs, of which milk, in particular, is said by the Agency to be 400 times more polluting than raw sewage due to its high nutrient content. In September of last year, the Agency expressed concern over the possible dumping of milk during the fuel crisis due to worries that dairies would not be able to obtain fuel for their tankers (see related story).

According to the Environment Agency, in 1999 there were 3140 substantiated pollution incidents which were related to transport accidents.

“This initiative will benefit hauliers and manufacturers as the costs associated with clean-up operations are almost always met by the polluter,” said Bruce McGlashlin, Senior Water Quality Protection Officer at the Environment Agency. “We have worked closely with the emergency services, hauliers and industry partners to ensure the scheme has wide support.”

“Now the emergency services will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to spillages of low hazardous products,” said Dave Hanlon of the London Fire Brigade. “We will be able to prevent or minimise the effects of any pollution that could have occurred.”

Express Dairies, the country’s largest supplier of milk, has pledged to support the scheme and will adopt the new marking on all appropriate tankers. “Express Dairies is an environmentally responsible company and as the UK’s largest producer of liquid milk and cream, we appreciate the environmental risks associated with dairy products,” said Dr George Plemper, Express Dairies Environment Manager. “We fully endorse the Environment Agency’s Black and White Marking Scheme.”

Substances which are covered by the new system are: food products, organic waste, detergent, water based products, such as paints, dyes, and fertilisers, oily/water mixtures, and coating products. The scheme is only applicable for domestic traffic as the scheme is not recognised in other European countries.

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