River charity benefits from kerosene spill

The company responsible for a pollution incident which saw 140,000 litres of Kerosene enter a Carmarthenshire stream in October 2016 has paid £150,000 to Afonydd Cymru, a river environment charity.

Following investigations into the cause of the spill by Natural Resources Wales, Mainline Pipelines Limited admitted liability under and the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (SAFFA) Regulations 1975.

The company offered an Enforcement Undertaking for the SAFFA offences, a donation equivalent to the size of a potential fine, to a charitable body which was accepted by NRW. This means the money will now go directly to improve the catchments of the River Tywi which were affected by the spill.

Huwel Manley, Operations Manager for NRW, said:

“Our role is to ensure businesses can operate without harming people and the environment, this may involve prosecution but in certain cases it can be in the public interest to look at options other than a court case.

“Actions such as enforcement undertakings, where companies that have committed offences make a financial contribution to environmental groups, not only benefit the community but also allows NRW to use its resources to pursue other offenders”

“This approach is an example of NRW fulfilling its key role for the greater good of the wider community. This way, the money is spent in the local economy instead of going to the Treasury, which is the case with court fines.”

In October 2016, around 140,000 litres of Kerosene spilled from a fractured pipe which was damaged while routine maintenance work took place alongside the A48 in Carmarthenshire.

The spill occurred near the village of Nantycaws and the kerosene found its way in to the Nant Caws watercourse and eventually reached the Nant Pibwr. A significant number of fish died as a result.

The maintenance work was being carried out by contractors working for the pipeline’s owners Mainline Pipelines Limited, a subsidiary of oil company Valero.

The company deployed significant resources to tackle the incident, getting oil spill response specialists on-site within three hours to deploy booms to prevent further pollution downstream.

The ensuing clean-up operation lasted for four weeks with a total cost in the region of £1.1m which was borne by Mainline Pipelines Limited

Dr Stephen Marsh- Smith OBE of Afonydd Cymru said:

“We are delighted that the outcome of this case is a donation that can be used to improve the environment of the Tywi in Carmarthenshire.

“An enforcement undertaking is a much more positive outcome than a court case and we congratulate Mainline Pipelines and Natural Resources Wales in reaching this agreement.

“We look forward to working with partners to use the funding to improve the environment in the Tywi catchment.”

In addition to the enforcement undertaking, Mainline Pipelines Limited carried out a full clean-up after the incident and put in place a significant ground water environmental monitoring programme since the incident to safeguard private water supplies in the locality.

Huwel added:

“Not only does it save NRW time and money and frees up our legal resources to pursue and prosecute offenders, it also allows NRW to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.

“We can only accept them for certain offences, but they can help us to ensure organisations comply with the law, eliminate any financial gain and get them to carry out their business responsibly.”

Steve Bateman, Mainline Pipelines Limited Senior Manager, said:

“In light of the very thorough and diligent remediation of the local environment, Mainline Pipelines Limited agreed as part of an enforcement undertaking to pay £150,000 to Afonydd Cymru, which has been accepted by NRW”

“This donation will be used to directly support efforts to protect and enhance the local environment in the area.

“This follows a previous donation of £40,000 to Llangunnor Community Council in recognition of the difficulties endured by residents in Nantycaws and the surrounding communities during the incident.”

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