What Are the Costs of Pollution Incidents?

All responsible businesses must take reasonable steps to prevent pollution from entering the environment.  There are obvious business reasons to consider and implement measures and controls to prevent a pollution incident on your site including moral and legal obligations.  But what are the financial costs a business may incur in the event of a pollution incident?  This blog will explore these reasons.

Stock Loss

If you have a spillage, you will lose all of the stock or product that is spilled or becomes contaminated.  Depending on the nature of your spill, these costs can quickly add up.  For example, at the time of writing, 1000 litres of red diesel would cost over £530 and that is not taking into account delivery charges.  This would be a relatively small spill; imagine what a large spillage would cost.

Business Disruption

When a spillage happens, it needs to be dealt with quickly.  Your spill team must respond swiftly and this will cause disruption to your normal business practices.  The spillage area will also need to be cordoned off until it has been cleaned up and dealt with.  Depending on the size and type of spillage, this could lead to loss of man hours, areas that cannot be used and accessed and potentially days of disruption.  Following an incident, the investigation and further clean-up could also cause additional disruption.  If a key cause of the incident was a failure of some kind, activities may be disrupted in order to solve the issue and prevent a recurrence.

Spill Clean-Up

Cleaning up a spill can be a costly exercise, including the cost of the spill kit you use as well as its final disposal.  If you have spilled something hazardous, such as diesel, everything that you use to clean it up and any contaminated PPE will need to be disposed of as hazardous waste, which can be very costly.  If your spillage requires an external company to assist with the clean-up and decontamination, this will be an additional cost.  If the spillage has escaped the site, you will also be required to clean up and potentially remediate any damage that occurred as a result of your pollution.  This could be very expensive and potentially take a very long time.

Fines and Penalties

If you have an incident that causes environmental pollution, you may incur fines or penalties in addition to the spill clean-up.  The level of your fine will be dependent on the severity of the environmental pollution, your culpability and the size of your organisation.  Fines can vary from the thousands through to the millions and could potentially have a significant impact on your business and reputation.

The costs of a pollution incident are difficult to predict and can be very costly when taking into consideration direct costs such as loss of stock and spill clean-up and indirect costs from business disruption, fines and loss of reputation.  Do you need help to prevent pollution on your site?  Click here for more information.