£150k gift but no fine for firm after oil spill in river
THE company responsible for an oil spill which saw thousands of litres of oil pour into a Welsh stream has avoided a fine – but has made a donation to a river charity.
In October 2016 routine maintenance was being carried out alongside the A40 outside Carmarthen by Mainline Pipelines Limited, a subsidiary of oil giant Valero.
Damage was done to a pipe near Nantycaws, between Carmarthen and Cross Hands, and about 140,000 litres leaked into the water and eventually reached a stream called Nant Pibwr. A significant number of fish died as a result of the spill.
A huge clean-up operation ensued at a reported cost of more than £1 million, and Mainline Pipelines Limited admitted liability under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act Regulations 1975 after an investigation into the cause of the spill was carried out by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
The company responsi- ble for the spill has avoided a fine and prosecution, and has instead donated £150,000 to Afonydd Cymru, the Welsh body that represents six river trusts across Wales.
Following an investigation carried out by NRW, Mainline Pipelines Limited offered what’s known as an enforcement undertaking for the offences committed.
According to the UK Government, the “primary purpose of the enforcement undertaking is to allow the offender to restore and remediate any environmental damage they have caused”.
Effectively this means a donation is paid to a char- itable body which is equivalent to the size of a potential fine.
This money will now go towards improving parts of the River Tywi which were affected by the spill.
NRW says this outcome benefits the community and it was “in the public interest” not to take the matter to court.
“Our role is to ensure businesses can operate without harming people and the environment, this may involve prosecution but in certain cases it can be in the public interest to look at options other than a court case,” said Huwel Manley, operations manager for NRW. Actions such as enforcement undertakings, where com- panies that have committed offences make a financial contribution to environmental groups, not only benefit the community but also allow NRW to use its resources to pursue other offenders.
“This approach is an example of NRW fulfilling its key role for the greater good of the community.”
Dr Stephen MarshSmith, of Afonydd Cymru, said: “We are delighted that the outcome of this case is a donation.
“An enforcement undertaking is a much more positive outcome than a court case and we congratulate Mainline Pipelines and Natural Resources Wales in reaching this agreement.”
The oil spill near Nantycaws.