Suez fined for landfill leachate licence breach

The company – which was trading as Sita UK at the time of the offences – pleaded guilty to breaching licensed conditions on leachate volume between 18 December 2012 to 12 June 2013, and to failing to report breaches to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) between 9 January 2012 and 8 March 2013.

PerthMapThe Binn landfill (Glenfarg) site is operated by Sita which holds a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit from SEPA which allows it to accept a total of 3.5 million tonnes of household, industrial and commercial waste, at a maximum rate of 372,000 tonnes per annum.
In late 2012 SEPA officers became aware of breaches relating to leachate.

Leachate is a highly polluting liquid which can contain high levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, heavy metals and organic compounds.

The PPC permit puts a limit on the amount of leachate permitted in a site to prevent stress on the lining of the collection facility. If the leachate volume exceeds the two metre high limit there is a possibility that leachate will escape from the site and may result in pollution of the surrounding environment.

According to SEPA the volume of leachate was identified as being over the permitted two metre high limit on various dates between 18 December 2012 and 12 June 2013, and the operator failed to inform SEPA of these breaches between 9 January 2012 and 8 March 2013.

Enforcement action taken by SEPA against the site, over a number of years, has included site inspections, liaison meetings with SITA, advisory letters and warning letters.

Commenting following the ruling, Stephanie Sinclair, SEPA’s investigating officer, said: “Landfill sites are required to be designed and maintained in a way that minimises the risk to the environment. The two metre limit for the leachate is required to ensure the base and sides of the landfill provide a barrier between the landfill and the environment.

“By failing to maintain the level of leachate below two metres, SITA UK Ltd put the environment at risk.”

In a statement Statement issued the company said: “Environmental compliance is a key priority for Suez environnement and we have invested heavily in managing leachate at our Binn Farm landfill site to mitigate any risk of harm to the environment.

We are committed to ensuring that we maintain leachate within permitted levels, and will continue to work closely with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency as the site is restored.”

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