Heathrow coach company fined £21,000 + for dumping toilet waste into River Crane
The Environment Agency (EA) has revealed that a Heathrow coach company has been fined for dumping toxic waste in the River Crane. Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd, based near Heathrow Airport, broke environmental law when staff poured waste into sewers, instead of taking the waste to an approved site for disposal. The company has been fined and charged with allowing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into the River Crane, between May 2015 and February 2016, and failing to provide the EA with documents relating to their activities. Responding to the news the Chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) Jackie Clark-Basten, said: “We are glad about the outcome of this investigation by the Environment Agency. Heathrow have a poor record of polluting the local area with hazardous substances (eg. de-icers like ethylene glycol, as well as cleaning fluids, paint, and kerosene) and yet in the Government’s draft National Policy Statement, they admit the likely detriment to local water quality with expansion, but also admit no work has been undertaken on this issue and it will only be undertaken at a much later stage in the process. The wider question that needs to now be asked is can we really afford to take the chance of further contamination of local water?”
Heathrow coach company fined for dumping toilet waste in River Crane
Responding to the news that a Heathrow coach company has been fined for dumping toxic waste in the River Crane (1), Chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion Jackie Clark-Basten, said:
“We are glad about the outcome of this investigation by the Environment Agency.
Run off water from Heathrow containing hydrocarbons, de-iceants, cleaning fluids, paint, kerosene and other toxic liquids are being dumped daily into three large open balancing pits around the airport.
Heathrow have a poor record of polluting the local area with hazardous substances and yet in the Government’s draft National Policy Statement, they admit the likely detriment to local water quality with expansion, but also admits no work has been undertaken on this issue and it will only be undertaken at a much later stage in the process.
The wider question that needs to now be asked is can we really afford to take the chance of further contamination of local water?”
- Environment Agency Press Release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/heathrow-coach-firm-polluted-river-with-toilet-waste?utm_source
- Chemicals used to de-ice aircraft are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, both deadly substances in small quantities. Ethylene glycol causes central nervous system depression and kidney and liver damage. Just a 1.4ml dosage of these substances is deemed toxic. Additional pollutants, including aircraft fuel and other substances are also washed off the planes during de-icing procedures. These pollutants have been found in local rivers and lakes, presenting not only a hazard to the public, but also wildlife and biodiversity. How much worse would this become with expansion?
- Background information on Heathrow water quality http://www.cranevalley.org.uk/documents/Improvements_to_Heathrow_Airport_Water_Discharges_from_Eastern_Balancing_Reservoir-Stakeholder_document.pdf
For more information: Rob Barnstone, 07806947050; firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Government:
Heathrow coach firm polluted river with toilet waste
From: Environment Agency
5 December 2017
Environmental detective work leads to £21,000 fines and £12,000 costs.
A west London river was contaminated after toilets from luxury coaches were emptied into public drains.
Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd, based near Heathrow Airport, broke environmental law when staff poured waste into sewers, instead of taking the waste to an approved site for disposal.
Officers from the Environment Agency turned detective in 2015, tracing pollution in the River Crane to where Symphony operated, a trading estate minutes from the airport.
A monitoring device, called a sonde, found the river had been polluted, and other sondes identified Symphony as the source, which officers confirmed through a network of drains.
The watercourse was further polluted when chemicals and dirty water entered the drains after staff washed vehicles on Symphony’s premises. The firm had been warned by the Environment Agency and the company’s landlords doing so was against the lease. Symphony would have stayed within the law by disposing of the chemicals at an approved site, or by cleaning their cars and coaches at an authorised location.
Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd, Eastern Business Park, Ely Road, Hounslow, was fined £18,000 by Ealing Magistrates’ Court, which ordered the firm to pay £12,113.62 in costs, and a victim surcharge of £170. The company was charged with allowing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into the River Crane, between May 2015 and February 2016, and failing to provide the Environment Agency with documents relating to their activities.
The sole director of the firm, Allen Jeyakumar, of Lee Road, Greenford, was fined £3,134 by the court, for allowing Symphony to commit the offences. Mr Jeyakumar also had to pay a victim surcharge of £142.
Mathew Reed, who led the investigation for the Environment Agency, said:
Incidents like this have the potential to have a serious and long-term impact on the health of the river. Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd was given repeated warnings about its activities.
People might think we will find it too difficult to trace the cause of pollution, but this case proves that some detective work leads to a conviction.
Identifying pollution through a complex network of drains can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done. We have the skills and technology to do it.
Both Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd and Allen Jeyakumar pleaded guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing.
For media enquiries, please call 0800 141 2743, or email email@example.com.
Symphony website is at http://s-coaches.com/
Green Lane, London
Phone: 020 8756 0004
Fax: 020 8589 0804
Some earlier incidents of Heathrow water pollution:
Airports, glycols in de-icing liquids and Heathrow local water pollution
There are two main water pollutants arising from the Heathrow site, glycol used for de/anti-icing activities and hydrocarbons from oil and fuel. On 15th December, before the heavy snow on 17th and 18th which closed the airport for several days, that ” Heathrow had 500,000 litres of de-icing fluid at their disposal.” But the de-icing chemicals are not without their environmental problems, and if allowed to enter ground water or water courses, exert levels of biological oxygen demand (BOD).
Heathrow water pollution incidents:
Heathrow Airport fined for causing death of hundreds of fish
By Dan Coombs. Uxbridge Gazette
Heathrow Airport has been fined £13,000 for causing the death of hundreds of fish in a nearby lake.
The Airport last week pleaded guilty to discharging pollutants into the Clockhouse
Lane Pits lake system near Bedfont in April 2008.
This caused oxygen to plummet, killing numerous stickleback, perch and tench,
and thousands more fish had to be relocated to an adjacent lake.
The airport uses a tunnel system allowing it to discharge surface water runoff
into the lake, but on this occasion the maximum lawful limits of pollutants was
The discharge contained glycol, a common ingredient of de-icing fluids, applied
to aeroplanes and runways during periods of cold weather at Heathrow, and it was
this which caused the death of the fish in the lake.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Agency described the effects on the fish
population as having a ‘devastating impact’ and caused a significant loss of revenue
for recreational companies working in and around the lake.
The airport paid £195,000 in compensation to the Princes Ski Club, who lease
the lake, for their loss of business, as it was forced to close for a week as
the clean-up took place.
The airport was also asked to pay £15,000 in court costs.
Company fined £40K for Heathrow groundwater pollution
A London company responsible for supplying jet fuel at Heathrow Airport was fined
£40,000 last week and ordered to pay the Environment Agency in excess of £14,000
for its costs, after severely polluting groundwater beneath the airport, with
at least 139,000 litres of Jet A-1 aviation fuel.
Heathrow Hydrant Operating Company Limited (HHOpCo), of 8 York Road, London SE1
had pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in June this year to causing
polluting matter to enter the Taplow Gravels groundwater, contrary to section
85 (1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The case had been committed to
Isleworth Crown Court for sentence.
The court heard that on 29 November 2007 HHOpCo informed the Environment Agency
of a leak in the fuel supply pipeline to aircraft stands at Heathrow’s Terminal
One building. The leak was discovered by HHOpCo nine days earlier following an
unrelated report from BAA about a report of jet fuel odour in a nearby access
tunnel. Without this unrelated report, it is not known how long the leak would
have continued to go undetected for. HHOpCo conducted an overnight pressure test
on the hydrant system and confirmed the leak, but failed to notify the Environment
On further investigation HHOpCo staff identified a valve chamber full of approximately
8,000 litres of aviation fuel. Once the valve chamber was emptied, fuel was seen
leaking out of one of the attachments on the hydrant. Two bolts on the attachment
were so badly corroded that they had caused the leak, which was estimated at the
time of discovery to flow at 10 litres of fuel per minute. A later estimate corrected
the leak to 7 litres per minute. It is not known how long the leak had been going
on for or the total volume of fuel lost.
All bolts and valves on that section of pipeline were subsequently replaced to
stop the leak. The section was pressure tested and returned to normal operation
the following morning. The chamber in question has now been decommissioned.
HHOpCo attended an interview under caution at the Environment Agency office on
the 12 March 2009. The company admitted during the interview that a £7 million
automated leak detection system had been malfunctioning at the time and had not
detected the leak. This was also indicated in HHOpCo’s investigation report, which
revealed that the leak detection system was not working for at least five months
prior to the Environment Agency being notified of the incident. The company did
not put a manual testing system in place despite knowing that the automated system
was not working properly.
It quickly became clear that jet fuel had been leaking for some time. A specialist
remediation company sank boreholes to recover fuel and remediate the affected
area. As at June 2010 139,391 litres have been recovered and is still being recovered
at a rate of 80â€”100 litres per week. The cost of remediation to date is approximately
Mohammed Jama, the Environment Agency’s lead officer on the case, said:
“Heathrow Hydrant Operating Company’s carelessness has led to the extensive pollution of groundwater. Fortunately, to date, we have not seen any major impact to local rivers but jet fuel in groundwater has the potential to seriously harm the environment and water quality. The fine issued reflects the serious effect that HHOpCo’s failures have had on the Taplow Gravels.”
“Once groundwater becomes polluted it is very difficult to clean up. We hope that the fine issued will act as a prompt to HHOpCo and similar companies, reminding them of the importance of compliance and making sure that their actions do not cause harm to or damage the environment.”
HHOpCo’s contractors have been in charge of remediation and monitoring of the
fuel plume and continue to provide updates to the Environment Agency.
29.9.2010 (due to oil spill, not de-icing fluid)
15th December, before the heavy snow on 17th and 18th which closed the airport
for several days, that ” Heathrow now has 69 vehicles on its Snow Team, with 500,000 litres of de-icing fluid at their disposal.”
and more at end of this page https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2011/01/airports-glycols-in-de-icing-liquids-and-heathrow-local-water-pollution/