Scottish distillery operator fined £9,000 following fusel oil spill
Scottish drinks company Whyte and MacKay has been fined £9,000 after a spill from its distillery in Invergordon polluted the Cromarty Firth at Saltburn Pier, said the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
The drinks company pled guilty to carrying on a controlled activity liable to cause pollution of the water environment following a spill of fusel oil in to the Cromarty Firth.
SEPA said that on 5 August 2011, a SEPA officer carrying out an investigation at Saltburn Pier on an unrelated matter noticed a red, oily substance discharging to the Cromarty Firth from surface water drainage culverts.
There was a very strong odour which suggested it may be coming from the distillery, it added.
An internal report from Whyte and Mackay concluded that 19,260 litres of fusel oil was lost in the Cromarty Firth.
"Two issues contributed to this incident, the leak from the fusel oil tank and the crack in the bund," said David Wilby, SEPA's investigating officer.
"There were no maintenance schedules for the fusel oil tank and no records for when it was last checked. Annual bund inspections were taking place and SEPA would have expected the two-metre long crack to have been picked up either during the annual bund inspection or during any routine checks made by the distillery," he added.
"In this case the discharge was made to the Cromarty Firth which resulted in high dilution of the effluent and the effect on the environment was minimal. However, the impact could have been much greater had it gone undetected or occurred at a different time of year, " said Wilby.