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20 questions to UK EnvAgency re ICI Runcorn (pt 2)

  Please read part 1 first (separate message).  This is part 2 of 2.
  I enclose the "20 Questions" , together with selected pages from the Appendices.
  Questions 14 & 15 are the only ones which directly relate to dioxin issues.
  I have not scanned in all of the appendices, as these comprise some 30-40
  pages, including copies of several Environmental Incident Report Forms from
  the public registers, to illustrate points made in the list of questions. 
  Viv Mountford
  Industry & Pollution Activist, Halton FoE
  North West Office 
  38 Padgate Lane  Padgate 
  Warrington Cheshire WAI 3RU
  Tel: 01925 491011
  Fax: 01925 490902
  Questions For The Agency's Large Scale Audit Team
  ICI (MOPs) Runcorn
  Clients:  Halton Branch FoE
                 F--- L---
                 C--- T---   [Names of individuals = removed from this copy by
  Viv M]
  1) Staff Resources
  We would like to register our clients concern over the ratio of IPC
  inspectors to IPC sites and process applications/revisions in the North West
  and the Mersey Estuary in particular.
  Ouestion: Does the Agency collect data on the workloads placed on staff in
  the various IPC sections across the country and are these used to revise
  structures? How does the volume of work that staff who deal with ICI(Mops)
  compare to the UK average?
  2) Division of Duties
  Our clients believe that the key functions of policing sites such as ICI are
  best undertaken by diffent members within a dedicated team.
  Our Clients are concerned that the personal qualities that make a good
  licensing officer, do not necessarily match those required for an
  enforcement officer.  Our clients would like to suggest that three separate
  and key areas exist for the policing of sites such as ICI, namely.
  i) Issuing IPC Authorisations for new processes or variations to existing
  ii)  Assessing, analysing and acting on the various monitoring data, 'new
  release' data and reports that are submitted by ICI.
  iii)  Enforcement of the limits set out in the Authorisation and dealing
  with unauthorised releases.
  Question: Are any of the licencing/policing duties undertaken by the Agency
  split up in this way? Does the Agency agree in principle with this opinion.
  3) Lack Of Enforcement Action (Repeat Incidents) 
  Section 28 (paragraph 1) of the Agency's enforcement policy states that the
  Agency will consider prosecution when:
  'it is appropriate as a way to draw attention to the need for compliance
  with the law and the maintenance of standards required by law, especially
  where there would be a normal expectation that....through conviction of
  offenders, others may be deterred from similar failures to comply with the Law.'
  Although we recognise that it is often minor transgressions of IPC limits
  that lead to some of the plants having very poor compliance records, we are
  dismayed at the number of incidents (on some processes)  that either involve
  the same vent/outfall or the same substance. Data for the site as a whole
  from 1995 and 1996 has been provided by your head office and is reproduced
  in graphical form as Appendix II.
  Question: What policy exists in relation to repeat failures? Will the audit
  report incorporate a review of the enforcement action undertaken on those
  outfalls and vents with the worst records for repeated releases.
  We draw your attention to Appendix I which is a review of selected incidents
  from one authorised process (AL7421) and invite you to consider if you have
  adhered to the above policy in relation to the site.
  4) Lack Of Enforcement Action (Methods Of Release)
  We refer to paragraph 1 of section 28 in relation to 'similar failures'. A
  brief review of ICI's Environmental Incident Release Forms reveals that
  reasons such as 'poor operator knowledge',  'need for operator training,
  'corrosion' or 'lack of maintenance' are, in our client's opinion all too
  common. A similar opinion has also been expressed by Halton BC in their
  statutory consultees responses (from as long ago as 25th February 1994.
  Question: Will the audit report involve a breakdown of the causes behind the
  470+ incidents since 1995 and address how the most common causes relate to
  ICI's operating procedures and differences between policy documents and
  plant practice in the areas that are identified as deficient.
  We draw your attention to Appendix I which is a review of selected incidents
  from one authorised process (AL7421) and invite you to consider if you have
  adhered to the above policy in relation to the site.
  5) Lack Of Enforcement Action: (Serious Incidents)
  Section 28,  (paragraph 3)  of the Agency's enforcement guidelines state
  that prosecution will be considered when, 'the gravity of the offence, taken
  together with the general record and approach of the offender warrants it.'
  Question: We draw your attention to Appendix I which is a review of selected
  incidents from one authorised process (AL7421) and invite you to consider if
  you have adhered to the above policy in relation to the site.
  6) Serious Incidents (External Monitoring)
  Section 28 (paragraph 2) of the Agency's Enforcement Policy states that
  prosecution will be considered where there has been the 'potential for
  considerable environmental harm.'  Our clients are concerned that external
  monitoring of both controlled waters and air seems to be triggered on an
  irregular and hap hazard basis.
  Question: What policy exists for triggering external monitoring and how are
  the public informed of the commencement or results of such monitoring? What
  happens when key staff are on holiday?
  7) Internal communication (Incidents)
  Question: If E.A. staff other than the IPC section express written concern
  over an incident, are these letters and memos filed on the public register.
  What: procedures exist to satisfy the public that a fellow officers concerns
  are being addressed by the IPC section? Would such reports (such as incident
  reports) that relate to releases into the environment (where legal action is
  not pending) be available to the public via a request using the
  Environmental Information Regulations.
  8) Consultation Arrangements For New Applications or Variations
  Our clients are concerned that staff that who were previously statutory
  consultees (prior to the formation of the Agency) have for a period of time
  (since the Agency formed) not automatically been consulted on all variations
  and applications for new processes.  Our clients are also concerned that the
  failure to consult internally means certain statutory duties on matters such
  as fisheries and conservation have not been discharged as a result of these
  Question: Will the Agency recommence such internal consultations as a matter
  of routine and will such consultation responses be placed on the public
  register.  Will the audit review assess how fully matters raised in
  consultee responses (made when plants were authorised) have been addressed
  to date.
  9) EQS compliance (Sutton Weir)
  Question: What actions have you secured from ICI to ensure that the recent
  trend towards failing the EQS for certain list 1 Dangerous Substances, are
  10) Containment and Bunding
  Standard conditions relating to pollution prevention (such as those
  encompassed in the Agency's PPG2, PPG8, PPG11, PPG13 and other NRA
  guidelines have not been implemented at ICI.
  We would draw the Agency's attention to other Integrated Large Scale Audit
  reports and in particular the February 1997 audit of Albright: and Wilson in
  Oldbury (West Midlands) where in spite of having separate trade effluent and
  surface water systems and a lagoon for dealing with spillages to the surface
  water system, the audit has still criticised A&W for not having better local
  containment (see Recommendations 8 and 9 associated with Objective 8).
  Question: Why has the Agency failed to insist on the adoption of these basic
  pollution prevention measures at ICI? Are the elevated levels of list 1
  substances detected at Sutton Weir often associated with spillages in areas
  that should have been contained? Does the Agency practice a policy
  consistency between sites or even across different regions.
  11) Contaminated Land (Project Pathway)
  We do not believe the policy of issuing further variations without clearly
  defined timescales for undertaking remediation/containment measures is in
  line with the draft DoE guidance on contaminated land, planning guidance or
  the actions of the Agency on other sites.
  Our clients believe that individual plant/area remedial solutions (within
  the context of a site strategy) could and indeed should be developed prior
  to permitting the development of new plants or processes. We believe the
  layout of the site in relation to the local hydrogeology, lends itself
  towards dealing with the site in segments (if necessary as defined by plant
  boundaries) along the boundary with the canal.
  Our clients believe that the failure to secure improvements prior to the
  various plant improvements that have occurred has been a lost opportunity.
  Question: Will the Agency start to insist on remediation statements for
  individual plants at the time when redevelopment of any part of the site is
  12)  EU Groundwater Directive
  Are the recorded levels of CHC's from samples taken (by the Agency) from the
  borehole on site (NGR SJ5155 7995) the highest concentrations recorded in
  the UK.  Can the Agency confirm that the levels detected are more serious
  than those for which prosecutions have been brought in other regions (most
  notably Pringle Knitwear in Northern Region).
  Question: What is the opinion of the Agency's groundwater section in
  relation to the degree of contamination detected and the breach of the
  Groundwater Directive and what has been achieved in relation to the NRA's
  groundwater sections request for 'high levels of spillage containment'
  (Appendix III) which was made when the staff were statutory consultees?
  13) Unauthorised Releases ('New Releases')
  We applaud the various monitoring and mass balance calculations that the IPC
  staff have asked ICI to undertake. Our clients are however concerned that
  the various reports show significant numbers of unauthorised releases are
  being made, and are uncertain of what action the Agency intends to take.
  We cite Authorisation No. AL 7421 (Per/Tri) as an example where in addition
  to breaching annual release limits for vent PT14 and PT15, documents 68 and
  80 on the public register show significant quantities of previously
  unauthorised CHC's are being released from vents PT02, PT10 and PT 17.
  Document 80 goes on to suggest that other vents are also discharging
  unauthorised CHC's that ICI have not as yet been able to quantify.
  We have concluded that ICl's failure to meet annual release limits, their
  failure to identify which prescribed substances are discharged from which
  vents and their failure to complete an adequate mass balance when the IPC
  application was made indicates the company have a poor understanding of the
  emissions generated by the Per/Tri plant.
  Question: Does the Agency concur with this conclusion? What balance will the
  Agency strike between authorising any request made by ICI to permit
  additional releases and enforcing the existing limits.
  14) Dioxin Sampling
  We are concerned that the location chosen for off site monitoring of dioxins
  does not correlate with the prevailing wind direction, known or suspected
  sources from the site or the closest residential area to the plants and
  lagoons (that are potential sources of dioxin).
  We are also concerned that the Agency's report seeks to dismiss the worst
  samples from the sampling undertaken for 'Dispatches' and in particular the
  sample from the public footpath that runs by the lagoons.
  Question: What risk assessment has the Agency undertaken with Vale Royal BC,
  regarding the risks to the public (and in particular young children) who use
  this footpath? What remediation plans (for the footpath) have the Agency
  suggested as being appropriate?
  15) Dioxins (General)
  Question:  FoE are still awaiting a formal (written) response to their
  detailed comments made by Ms Mountford dated 26th February 1997.  Does the
  Agency intend to reply to the technical matters raised in Ms Mountford's
  response to your report on Dioxin Releases from ICI/EVC Runcorn.
  16) Sewage Treatment
  Question:  Do all sewage discharges now receive treatment to secondary
  treatment standards? If not, is the opportunity to insist on secondary
  treatment taken whenever a process variations or planning applications are
  received? What monitoring of such discharges is made to ensure a reasonable
  effluent standard is being maintained from the various plants that discharge
  to the canal?
  17) Impact Modelling
  Question; Given the large number of unauthorised releases from the site, has
  there been or are there plans to assess the impact of such releases on the
  local environment? Will the change to IPPC make such modelling a requirement
  for the site?
  18) Incident Ranking
  The large scale Compliance Audit of Glaxo applauds the company's scheme for
  ranking incidents and spillages via a 'Spillage and Release Index' and
  'The system offers benefits to both the Company and the Agency in that it is
  clear to all concerned which incidents must be reported to the Agency and
  which are trivial.  There are no areas for misunderstanding where the
  Company could be liable for failing to notify the Agency of an incident.
  Equally the Agency's resources are not wasted following up trivial
  incidents. It is a system which could well be tailored to suit many IPC
  authorised processes and deserves to be widely publicised.'
  Question: Given the number of incidents at ICI's Runcorn site, has such a
  scheme been considered by either ICI or the Agency?
  19) Incident Reporting
  Standard conditions within ICI's authorisations require ICI to notify the
  Agency of not only releases that breach a limit but also any 'breakdown of
  plant, equipment, technical means or technology if the malfunction or
  breakdown has the potential to cause serious pollution of the environment'.
  Logic dictates that such incidents are in general more common than those
  that eventually result in pollution.
  Our clients are concerned that the vast majority of notified incidents
  involve releases that have resulted in limits being breached. We are
  therefore concerned that in addition to the 470+ notified incidents since
  1995, even more occurrences should perhaps have been reported.  We are also
  concerned that there have been occasions where ICI has used the same EIR for
  more than one failure, There is also some inconsistency between plants in
  renotifying the failure of annual release limits when the latest quarterly
  figures become available. Some plants use a new EIR some simply send a
  letter referring back to the previous EIR.
  Question: Will the audit address which occurrences should be reported and
  will guidance be published on when a new EIR and new notification should be
  made.  Will this guidance to ICI be consistent with the stance taken at
  other IPC regulated sites.
  20) Programmed Inspections
  Question:  How many programmed inspections should be undertaken per annum at
  ICI's Runcorn site and how many of these have actually been undertaken.
  A Review of Unauthorised Releases from ICI Runcorn, Authorisation AL7421
  Appendix I: 	A Review of Unauthorised Releases from ICI Runcorn,
  authorisation AL7421
  Appendix II:	Unauthorised Emissions in 1995 and 1996 - 22 sites
  Appendix III: 	NRA Letter(30/03/94)
  Appendix IV: 	HMIP Schedule 1 Request for Information (27/02/95)
  Appendix V: 	ICI Response to Schedule 1 Request (including response to NRA)
  Appendix VI: 	Environmental Incident Report Forms (ICI) - AL7421 PER/TRI
  EIR		Release No.
  214/96 		41
  229/96		44
  245/96 		53
  246/96 		54
  297/96 		63
  303/96 		64
  318/96 		66
  342/96 		70
  349/96 		71
  367/96 		72
  394/96 		74
  464/96 		80
  466/96 		81
  30/97 		-
  97/97 		92
  136/97 		94
  141/97		95, 97, 100 & 101
  Our client's fundamental concern is that at the time of issuing the
  authorisation, standard pollution prevention guidelines were not included,
  and that processes were therefore authorised without adherence to BATNEC or
  The conditions we refer to are basic requirements relating to the provision
  of contained catchpit bunds that do not Ieak and a maintenance programme
  that instigates the replacement of pipelines, vent ducts and pumps, before
  such items leak or fail.
  We cite various EIRs as source documents to show that failure by the Agency
  to insist on such matters has led to repeated and unnecessary unauthorised
  Our clients are also concerned that there has been a subsequent failure to
  follow the Agency's own enforcement guidelines once the numbers of serious
  releases started to escalate above those for any other UK site.
  Whilst we are sympathetic to the notion that a large site will have more
  incidents than a single plant, we have chosen to review incidents on Per/Tri
  (AL7421) which 'celebrated' its 100th release in May 1997 after less than
  two years of integrated Pollution Control. The review covers the period from
  June 1996 to present.
  Release No.41 EIR 214/96
  Our concern is that standard pollution prevention measures require process
  areas to drain to sealed sumps (see Appendix 3: NRA letter 30/03/94). The
  presence of an overflow and the failure to have any detection system are, in
  our opinion, poor practices for an effluent system designed to handle List
  One substances. The level of CHCs (almost 40 times the consent limit) leads
  us to classify this as a serious incident.
  Release No.53 EIR 245/96
  Although not a serious breach of consent, the presence of CHCs in a drain
  (that should be uncontaminated), and an unsafe system of work (that
  facilitated the CHCs' release) are, in our opinion, poor environmental practice.
  Release No.54 EIR 246/96
  The level of consent failure coupled with the high flows noted, lead us to
  believe that a significant quantity of CHCs may have been released.
  Standard design conditions do exist for containing contaminated surface
  water, and we are curious as to what standard the systems at ICI are
  designed to. Given the List One status of the effluent, can we presume that
  containment would be designed to hold the 1:25 year or 1:50 year rainfall event?
  Release No.74 EIR 394/96
  We compliment Mr Wardle for his honesty over this release. Can we please
  have a response from the Agency as to its views on:
  * The significance of a 4-5 tonne loss of VDC caused by what ICI admit to be
  improper operations on the plant.
  * The use of one bund for two plants' emergency containment.
  * The procedures ICI have in place for checking bund integrity.
  * The choice of pumps that either do not self-prime, or had not been
  maintained so that they would prime.
  * The enforcement undertaken in relation to this incident.
  There are many common themes to the 100+ releases from this plant. Issues
  such as operator knowledge, the need for local containment, preventative
  maintenance and catchpits that do not leak or overflow, remain necessities
  if pollution is to be prevented from this plant.
  ICI are to be applauded for their honesty in reporting the reasons for so
  many of the plant's incidents.
  Our opinion is however, that the nature of the effluents warrants standards
  at least as strict as those for sewage pumping stations i.e.
  * Duty/ standby self-priming pumps 
  * Adequate retention for storms and power failure 
  * Telemetry and alarms to warn of fauIts 
  * A regular system of preventative maintenance
  We do not consider such measures to lie outside of either BATNEC or BPEO,
  and we fail to see why the Agency is failing to:
  1) Insist on Basic Pollution Prevention measures on this site 
  2) Use its enforcement powers to better effect
  Authorisation AL 7421 
  EIR Form No. 394/96 
  Date EIR Form Raised 04/10/96 
  Release Point of46
  Outfall Manager I Wardle    Release No 74 
  * Further information on the notification in Part A 
  Feeding wet VDC too quickly through the secondary separator led to an
  overflow of 4-5 tes into the bund. Whilst this material was being recovered
  a high effluent flow from the Cereclor plant led to the emergency effluent
  tank overflowing water into the same bund. The level in the bund rose to the
  point where a defect in the wall caused the bund to leak. This leakage found
  its way into the effluent pit via the drains. The pit pumps did not prime
  quickly enough and a small overflow occurred to the outfall.
  * Measures taken, or intended to be taken, to prevent a recurrence of the
  Raise awareness of shift teams to the effects of tank overflows and the
  importance of teamwork. Review rework procedures and overflow protection.
  Expedite repair of bunds. Review performance of effluent system, especially
  pit pump performance. Update operating procedure to include regular checks
  that pit pumps are working properly. Extend Seiger gas detection system to
  cover effluent pit and bund areas. Identify system for detecting organics in
  the effluent pit.
  * Measures taken, or intended to be taken, to rectify any environmental
  damage which    has been or may be caused by the release 
  The vast majority of the spillage of water and VDC was pumped from the bund
  into No 4 stock tank. In addition two additional pumps were used to pump the
  bund leakage and water from the top of the bund into a nearby secure bund.
  During the time that the outfall was out of consent it can be demonstrated
  that between 10 - 50 litres was lost.
  * Number of any unauthorised releases from the process which have taken
  place in the    past 2 years
  There have been 73 releases from the authorised process prior to this incident.