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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.
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
C--- T--- [Names of individuals = removed from this copy by
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
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.
[[PAGE 1 OF APPENDICES TO
QUESTIONS FOR THE AGENCY'S LARGE SCALE AUDIT TEAM - ICI (MOPS) RUNCORN]]
A Review of Unauthorised Releases from ICI Runcorn, Authorisation AL7421
Appendix I: A Review of Unauthorised Releases from ICI Runcorn,
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.
141/97 95, 97, 100 & 101
[[EXTRACT FROM APPENDIX I]]
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
[EXTRACT FROM APPENDIX VI]
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.