Tesco faces being fined after admitting responsibility for a fuel leak at one of its petrol stations that polluted a 10-mile stretch of river.
Thousands of litres of diesel leaked underground for up to two days from a petrol pump at one of the supermarket’s petrol stations, seeping into a tributary that feeds into the river Irwell in east Lancashire, in an area popular with anglers.
By the time engineers at the firm’s Haslingden branch managed to shut off the leak, the spilled fuel is thought to have contaminated a stretch of the river as far as the town of Radcliffe near Manchester. At the time of the incident on 2 July 2014, anglers reported dead trout being found along various part of the river.
Environment Agency officials later had to be dispatched to the site to give advice to Tesco staff about how to clean up the site without further harming local wildlife.
At Burnley crown court on Monday, Tesco pleaded guilty to two charges: one under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 and the other under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The maximum sentence it faces is unlimited fines and compensation.
It now faces a three-day sentencing hearing in January next year during which an expert witness is expected to be called to explain the risk and likelihood of harm from the storage and use of volatile chemicals’’ at the store. Details of the incident were not opened to the court.
Defence counsel Mark Harris said: The position is that the company has sought to behave quickly and efficiently.
After the case a Tesco spokesman said: It would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing inquiry.
But at the time of the incident, the firm insisted there was no immediate danger to the public, despite anglers sharing photos on Facebook of dead fish in Rawtenstall, Rossendale, Ramsbottom and Radcliffe.
The river has been the subject of a major clean-up campaign due to years of pollution from former sewage plants, paper mills and other industries. In recent times the river has been slowly improved through fish stocking schemes.
News Source TheGuardianNews