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UK Ship Company Fined for Paint Waste

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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A ship repair company in the United Kingdom was fined after it released toxic waste paint into a protected environmental area, the local government announced.

A&P Falmouth Ltd. was fined £10,000 ($15,364 USD), with costs of over £14,000 ($21,509.60 USD) awarded to the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council, the local authority for Cornwall, England, after the company pleaded guilty to an 'Environmental Permitting' Regulations offense at a hearing held in Truro Magistrates Court on July 5, the Cornwall Council announced.

A&P Falmouth operates a ship repair business that includes stripping paint from vessels and applying new surface coatings in dry dock.

A&P Falmouth
A&P Falmouth

A UK ship repair company was recently fined after pleading guilty to releasing waste paint containing copper, zinc, lead and tributyltin into an environmentally protected area.

The guilty plea stemmed from an incident on Sept. 29, 2011, when waste paint containing toxic substances was unintentionally discharged into the Fal Estuary from the Queen Elizabeth Dry Dock.

Several Toxic Substances Leaked

The paint discharge caused a visible plume, approximately the size of a "football pitch," which is a playing field that can range from 100 to 130 yards in length and 50 and 100 yards in width, according to BBC Sport.

The plume contained toxic substances including tributyltin, copper, zinc and lead.

"It is extremely rare for enforcement action to be taken against businesses carrying out activities requiring a permit because the vast majority recognise the importance of fulfilling their environmental and legal responsibilities," said Rebecca Kirk, Cornwall Council Assistant Head of Service for Community and Environmental Protection.

"However, in this particular instance A&P Falmouth fell significantly short of this standard by failing to meet the requirements of their permit. This meant that there was little option but to take enforcement action, as is the public expectation in such cases especially where the release of toxic subtances in the environment are concerned," Kirk said.

RFA Cardigan Bay

A&P Falmouth was using ultra-high-pressure waterjetting to remove coatings from the RFA Cardigan Bay class ship, a Royal Fleet Auxilliary vessel, when it released the toxic paint waste.

The estuary is part of a Special Area of Conservation, a European designation to protect rare and threatened wildlife, and is close to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a conservation designation for a protected area in the UK.

Company Apologizes

The waste paint discharged into the estuary was from the RFA Cardigan Bay, which was in dry dock for a complete refit, including removal of antifouling paint from the entire hull using ultra-high-pressure waterjetting prior to recoating.

RFA Cardigan Bay class ship is a Royal Fleet Auxilliary vessel that delivers the Royal Navy, can support the Royal Marines and can assist in disaster and humanitarian relief.

For this type of work, a permit is required under environmental legislation, which is issued and regulated by the Public Health and Protection Service (PH&P) or Cornwall Council. The permit contains conditions to ensure that pollution is prevented and/or controlled and includes conditions related to discharges to water drafted by the Environment Agency.

The incident was reported anonymously, and an Environment Agency officer took a boat out on the estuary to take samples of the water.

A&P Falmouth apologized for the incident and stated that it was an isolated occurence cause by washing out paint sludge that had fallen onto the floor of the dry dock.

"A&P takes its envirnmental responsibilities very seriously and our activities are strictly regulated. We deeply regret and apologise for this accidental discharge and have taken steps to ensure that it will not happen again," said Peter Child, A&P Falmouth managing director, the Falmouth Packet reported.

The company has since taken measures to prevent any similar incidents from occuring, according to the Cornwall Council.


Tagged categories: Enforcement; Environmental Protection; Shipyards; UHP waterjetting

Comment from Gordon Kuljian, (7/23/2013, 2:37 PM)

Unfortunate occurrence. UHPWJ is and has been a great technology for the ship repair insustry. Those utilizing it however must be trained in proper collection, disposal and treatment.

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