BP CHEMICALS has been fined £30,000 at Hull Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to a leak of Syngas containing carbon monoxide from its plant at Saltend in 2009.
Between 10th November and 11th December 2009, a total of 572 tonnes of combustible Syngas was released into the atmosphere from BP’s Saltend chemical works when a valve failed. But the Magistrates Court, which met last Friday 22nd July, heard that there were no alarms or procedures in place to detect the release. This resulted in a lengthy period before the leak was discovered.
The release of gases consisted of 324 tonnes of carbon monoxide, 175 tonnes of carbon dioxide, eight tonnes of methane and 65 tonnes of hydrogen. The combination of these gases which make up Syngas have the potential to be highly flammable.
The leak was only discovered on the 7th December when a technician attempted to take a sample from a ‘cooling water return line’, and his personal carbon monoxide alarm was activated.
Speaking after the case, Darren Leng, regulatory officer at the Environment Agency said:
“Whilst on this occasion there was no impact on the environment or human health, we take breaches of environmental permits very seriously, and always take action where appropriate.”
BP said this was a single incident and there was no breach of air quality standard for carbon monoxide. No harm was caused to employees or members of the public, and that environmental impact was minimal. The chemicals giant also made changes at the plant to prevent this from happening again.
BP was also ordered to pay court costs of £5,220 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.
Source: Environment Agency