Waste contractor to pay £68,500 for liquid cyanide leak

A waste collection and disposal contractor has been ordered to pay costs totalling £68,500 for causing liquid cyanide to leak from a lorry at an industrial estate in Heanor, Derbyshire.

J&G Environmental of Fareham, Hampshire, was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £52,500 for an incident taking place on 6 February 2018, when a container was ruptured as the driver moved it around.

Environment Agency officers used boons and absorbent pads to stop the pollution from spreading

According to the regulator, Nottingham crown court heard that hundreds of litres of liquid, containing diluted cyanide, began to escape the container and eventually ended up in the drainage system and natural waterways.

The Environment Agency reported that it attended the scene to stop the flow of water from nearby ponds. The Agency also took samples from dead fish that, following testing, were confirmed to have died from cyanide poisoning.

On the day of the incident, the company had collected the waste liquid from the Rolls Royce base before the lorry went onto Heanor.

It estimated the incident’s clean up costs were in the region of £50,000.

On its website, J&G Environmental describes itself as a “specialist in waste management to the printing, photographic and healthcare industries”.


The Agency’s statement outlines that in sentencing the company, Judge Michael Auty noted that J&G Environmental had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty to the offence.

He took into consideration the efforts made by the company to ensure there wasn’t any repetition of a similar incident and its contributions to recycling and environmental welfare were also taken into account, the regulator said.

The Judge added that it was “unfortunate that the driver was unable to provide any detail of the nature of the liquid being transported and that the absence or availability of personal protective equipment created a risk to its employees.”


A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “We welcome this sentence as this was a serious pollution which caused considerable disruption besides fish deaths.

“The Environment Agency will pursue any company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature and will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties. Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment and harm human health.”

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