Whisky pollution incident sees firms warned about environmental risk

Businesses in Scotland have been told to ensure their operations take into account environmental risk, following an incident where thousands of litres of whisky polluted the River Ayr.

The message from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) comes after Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd was fined £12,000 at Ayr Sheriff Court last week for failing to prevent the spillage of 6,600 litres of whisky spirit, of which approximately 5,000 litres of 67% strength entered the River Ayr.

The incident prompted Scotland’s environment watchdog to call on companies to ensure environmental risks associated with their operations are explored and steps taken to prevent pollution. It also called for them to certify that their staff are adequately trained to deal with any issues.

SEPA’s reporting officer David Wallace said that companies should not “wait until there is a pollution incident before they take steps to prevent such an incident happening”.

The incident took place in September 2011 and was largely due to a lack of staff training in how to deal with spillages.

Wallace said: “The bund around the storage tanks, which is designed to contain any spill, had a drain valve leading directly to the River Ayr. This had been left open after draining rainwater. The situation was further exacerbated by the absence of staff training for managing spills”.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie