Pollution prevention control for UK business

Pollution Prevention & Control for UK Business

The following presentation considers issues around pollution prevention and control for UK business, looking at the potential effects pollution incidents can have on our environment including streams, rivers, watercourses and groundwater resources. It considers the consequences of a pollution incident and looks at practical ways UK businesses can help manage the risks of pollution to protect the environment. It looks at the importance of understanding on-site drainage systems, the management of waste streams, waste management, the disposal of trade effluent, preventing groundwater pollution and how to deal with a pollution incident.

Pollution Prevention & Control for UK Business

All industrial and commercial sites can pollute our natural environment, however today’s society isn’t prepared to accept the level of damage that was caused in the past. As a result your company’s corporate reputation will be damaged if you don’t take your environmental responsibilities seriously.

More and more investors and fund managers take environmental reputation into account when making decisions about the public companies they invest in.

The embarrassment of press headlines, unlimited fine or even a prison sentence following a prosecution for a pollution incident will be bad enough for any organisation publicly or privately owned.

But the knock on financial consequences to your company could be even more damaging with loss of business having a direct effect on your bottom line. So it makes good business sense to manage your environmental responsibilities and maintain a green image, it is an important factor in giving you a competitive advantage in today’s economic climate.

This was illustrated in some research that we [Environment Agency] commission which found that companies with good environmental management are more profitable. We are responsible for protecting and improving the environment in the United Kingdom.

We help to create a better place by improving, the quality of the air that we breathe, the water that we use and the land on which we live. We also help to protect wildlife from pollution that can affect their habitat and their food.

We can also work with you, by giving you advice about how you can protect your local environment. We can advise you on how to reduce the waste that you produce as well as your operating costs and helping to reduce the risk of pollution incident happening on your site.

We can also give free advice on all areas of pollution prevention, this will help you carry out an environmental review of your site so you can put an action plan in place to help you prevent pollution or deal with accidents safely if they happen.

All Small businesses have a responsibility to comply with environmental regulations – a lot of them don’t comply because they don’t know what their duties are and if one can raise awareness then they will know and I am sure most of them will comply. If smaller/medium size businesses can reduce pollution it will also help their costs and therefore that will help their profits particularly in the area of waste and energy they can get some quite good savings.

John Holbrow – Federation of Small Businesses


Pollution prevention makes good business sense because you can get prosecuted; you can have a bad reputation you are also going to get a fine, so if you do the work before hand it will be cheaper in the long run.

Eurwyn Owen – ARENA Network (Wales)

Understanding Site Drainage Systems to Prevent Pollution

A good knowledge of all the drainage systems on your site is necessary to prevent pollution. You should know what type of drainage systems you have on your site and make sure you have a detailed up to date drainage plan with all the up to date information on it.

Road side drains are often connected to the surface water drainage system and anything that goes down this drain will run into streams and rivers near you. If you have a separate drainage system there are foul water drains to carry sewage and contaminated water to a treatment works, there are also surface or clean water drains they only carry uncontaminated rain water – these drain to local rivers, streams or soak-a-ways in the ground. You may not be able to see the river it could be a few miles away.

Colour Coding Man Holes, Gullies & Grids

You could identify and colour code all man holes, gullies and grids to reduce the risk of pollutants entering water drains, red should be used for foul water drains, blue for surface water drains and a red c for combined drain systems. Everyone should be made aware of the colour coding and what it means.

You should check your drainage plan before any new building work is carried out on site to make sure connections are made to the right drainage system and that they are added to the drainage plan.

Check you have no wrong connections from existing facilitates such as mess rooms, canteens, laboratories and washing machines. Pollution incidences can devastate wildlife habitats and put human health at risk.

Goods Delivery & Materials Handling Practices

Good working practices are essential on your site for the delivery and handling of materials such as oils, chemicals or food stuffs – a spillage can cause pollution as well as wasting your valuable raw materials. Make someone responsible for supervising all deliveries and that delivery areas are marked and isolated from surface water drains. Identify transfer routes and keep them clear. Pipelines should be sited at aboveground where possible, protect underground pad lines from corrosion and damage and regularly test them to make sure they are not leaking.

Check the condition of your storage containers and how much is in them before every delivery, label all containers with what they contain and their capacity. Fit automatic cut off values on delivery pipes to reduce the risk of spillage. Have contingency plans and emergency plans to deal with any accidents and make sure everyone knows about them.

Pollution Prevention – The Risk from Oil & Chemical Spills

You should take particular care with any surface water drain at risk from oil pollution, oil can cause big problems – as little as 5 litres can cover an area of water the size of two football pitches.

Safe storage of materials such as oil and chemicals on site is necessary to prevent pollution – you should make sure storage containers are sited away from drains or water courses, the containers must be suitable for the materials stored, in good condition, clearly labelled and not likely to leak.

You should store liquids within a secondary containment system such as a bund, preferably under a roof to avoid collecting rain water if you don’t the rain water may have to be disposed of by a registered waste carrier. Regularly check that the containment system isn’t leaking and that no liquid from the tank or pipes can get outside the system. Make sure that any above ground oil storage complies with relevant laws.

Place oil separators on any water source drain that make be at risk from oil spills, separators should be properly designed large enough to contain the spillage and properly maintained.

Site Security & Protection

You should use secure fences, lock gates and doors and where possible store materials in secure building or undercover. Storage containers should have locks fitted on all outlets which are locked and shut when not in use. An increasing number of pollution accidents are caused each year by vandalism and theft. You should site storage facilities above ground where possible.

Underground Storage

Underground storage means faults are difficult to find and there is an increased risk of pollution that can cost much more to clean up. Leak detection systems may be a legal requirement on underground storage to prevent pollution of rivers of drinking water supplies stored in rocks underground.

Waste Management & Reduction

Reducing how much waste you produce will save money and resources making sure that you store and dispose of your waste properly is an essential pollution prevention measure. You have a legal duty of care to ensure that your waste is probably dealt with; you must check what legal controls apply to the waste that you use. Carry out a waste review on your site with free independent help from the environment energy helpline.

The review will help reduce the amount of waste you produce and identify what you can recycle. The less waste you make the less money you lose. You must ensure all waste including litter cannot cause pollution of water, land or air.

Waste Storage Considerations

Store your waste safely in a designated is that is completely isolated from any surface water drains or direct discharge to the environment. If you have liquid wastes the area should be able to contain spillages – if you have a rubbish compactor keep it in the designated area as they often leak a polluting liquid.

We all know that burning any waste is harmful to the environment but did you know that if you burn certain waste material you could also be breaking the law.

Ensure you separate different types of waste in containers that are probably labelled to show whether they contain general, recyclable or hazardous materials. You have a duty to ensure that the contractor who removes your waste is registered and told what kind of waste it is.

Preventing pollution from wastes comes down to common sense, general good housekeeping and staff training. We all know that burning any waste is harmful to the environment but did you know that if you burn certain waste material you could also be breaking the law.

Trade Effluent Discharge

Liquid waste that is produced on your site is known as trade effluent and must be disposed of very carefully to prevent pollution of surface water drainage systems, river or ground water. Even discharges you may think are clean such as cooling water, steam condensates, pressure testing liquids are classified as trade effluents.

The best environmental option is for your trade effluent to be discharged to public foul sewer systems. You must get permission from your local sewer provider before making a discharge. They may set conditions on the quantity and quality of the effluent – if you don’t get permission contact us for advice.

You should ensure trade effluent discharge points are marked on your site drainage plan. Clearly marked areas separated from surface water drains for all washing or cleaning operations should also be provided.

Disposal of Water Containing Cleaning Agents

Don’t let any dirty water containing any cleaning agents used to wash vehicles, plant, floors or containers go down surface water drains as it will cause population. If you need to de-water parts of your site test the water first to find the best way to dispose of it. Don’t pump facility water direct or a river or stream, road or surface water drain as this stops fish breathing, covers plants and can cause flooding. Ask your sewer provider or us for advice before you do any pumping.

Groundwater Pollution Prevention

Groundwater is stored in porous rocks from which over a third of our drinking water is taken – although we cannot see ground water, we cannot forget about it. Groundwater is a valuable resource and must be protected from pollution because it is used for drinking water, farming and industrial processes. You will need to get advice from us if you are going to store, handle, use or dispose of certain substances such as chemicals, fuels or solvents that could pollute groundwater.

There are legal requirements that you must follow if you store these substances, codes of practise have been written to help you understand what you need to do, and these include guides for underwater storage tanks and the use and storage of solvents.

Make everyone aware of how a careless of thoughtless action could damage ground water supplies and put our health and the environment at risk. You must clean up a spill promptly, remove any contaminated soil and dispose of according to waste legislation. Just one litre of solvent can contaminate 100million litres of drinking water, that’s enough to fill 50 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Groundwater pollution can be very difficult and expensive to clean up. The cost could be several hundred thousand pounds.

Preventing – Reducing the Effects of a Pollution Incident

Trained and knowledgeable staff can save you both money and time by preventing or reducing the effects of a pollution incident. You should make sure all your staff are trained to be environmentally aware to apply correct procedures and to respond correctly in the event of an incident that could cause pollution.

You should develop a pollution incident response plan to deal with an emergency and test the plan on a regular basis by carrying out simulated exercises.

You should also ensure personal protective clothing and emergency pollution control equipment is readily available and regularly checked by a responsible person.

Procedures for the recovery, handling and disposal of all waste materials for an incident or an emergency must be provided.

If a spill occurs it must be cleaned up promptly or it could cause a bigger problem. Remove any contaminated materials including soil and ensure they are disposed of according to waste legislation.

If you have a pollution incident that might damage the environment call us to get expert help.

Remember as well as assisting in an emergency we are also here to help with preventing pollution not simply to punish someone who causes it. Follow our advice and you will find that pollution prevention pays by getting your site right.

Pollution Prevention Pays – Environment Agency

Expert Wastewater & Environmental Management Solutions

Contact Water Treatment Services today to discuss your industrial wastewater treatment, pollution prevention and trade effluent requirements. We can provide a range of expert environmental management solutions including the evaluation and implementation of cost effective, environmentally sensitive effluent treatment solutions.

With offices in London serving the South and South East England, Manchester (North West), Birmingham (Midlands), Bristol (South East England and Wales), Leeds (North and North East) and Glasgow (Scotland), supported by regional teams of specially trained environmental engineers, in-field wastewater specialists and technical experts we can offer professional, cost effective industrial wastewater treatment and engineering support services throughout the UK and Ireland.

Contact us now for more information.

Further Reading…

More information about pollution prevention (P2) and control … here →

Pollution Prevention & Control for UK Business
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Pollution Prevention & Control for UK Business
Looking at pollution prevention and control for UK business, the potential effects pollution incidents can have on our the environment. It considers the consequences of a pollution incident and looks at practical ways UK businesses can help manage the risks of pollution to protect the environment.
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Water Treatment Services
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