Flavouring company polluted Suffolk river

An Environment Agency officer takes a water sample following the pollution.

Cleaning chemicals spilled into a brook on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border after a Haverhill business failed to take reasonable care of its operations.

The escape of the liquid has led to the company handing thousands of pounds to charity, and making significant changes to procedures and infrastructure.

International Flavours & Fragrances I.F.F. (Great Britain) Ltd allowed around 93 litres of an undiluted solution called Quatdet to enter Stour Brook in October 2017.

As a result, the company has paid £50,000 to Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust in a civil sanction, as well as the Environment Agency’s investigation and legal costs of more than £16,000.

The money will support the charity’s work protecting river habitats in the 2 counties.

Ben Marshall, a land and water officer for the Environment Agency in Suffolk, said:

It is important all organisations take action to avoid polluting the environment through careful consideration of their processes and procedures, and the monitoring of operations.

Serious errors occurred at IFF’s Haverhill plant, allowing a cleaning agent to escape into the brook.

Following the Environment Agency’s investigation, IFF took steps to avoid a repeat by installing equipment to contain spills, and improving its accident-reporting system. The company has also reviewed the sites drainage plans.

In agreeing to the sanction, known as an enforcement undertaking that can be used as an alternative to a prosecution. The Environment Agency accepted the company’s negligence wasn’t down to dangerous or foolhardy behaviour.

The Environment Agency was also satisfied IFF had improved its infrastructure and systems since the incident to prevent it happening again.

Enforcement undertakings allow companies and individuals to make good some of the environmental damage they cause, including through a financial contribution to a local project. The Environment Agency must also be sure the polluter will make changes to its operations.

While agreeing to enforcement undertakings, the Environment Agency continues to prosecute organisations and individuals where evidence shows high levels of culpability and serious environment harm.

The Environment Agency urges anyone who spots what they think is pollution to call its free, 24 hour incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60. Officers respond to limit damage to the environment, protecting people and wildlife.

International Flavours & Fragrances I.F.F. (Great Britain) Ltd, of Duddery Hill, Haverhill, was sanctioned under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (as amended). IFF paid the Environment Agency’s costs of £16,299.92 for the case.

Source: Environment Agency 16th November 2021