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International contract logistics company takes charge of their UK estate to manage their pollution risk


A major European Contracts Logistics company with warehousing and external areas of storage was struggling at the beginning of the decade to manage and contain their pollution risk. After a suspected pollution incident occurred in which an Internal Drainage Board identified a shimmer on a watercourse downstream from one of their sites, a new era of environmental thinking began.


Encountering potential pollution…

The ramifications of causing pollution to public water courses as a large commercial entity can include severe reputational and financial damage. There are many ways that pollution risk can be managed, and estates maintained to minimise pollution incidents. It is also crucial that a company is geared to manage these situations effectively when incidents arise. In this case, the Contracts Logistics company was not prepared to manage the situation at hand and had not been carrying out effective methods of prevention. It became clear that outside support and expertise was required.

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Collaborating on a solution

With the urgent need for support, Green Spark Environmental Ltd were brought on board as resident experts to help the Contract Logistics company navigate the situation. A thorough investigation was carried out to determine the source of the suspected pollution, which involved regular liaison with the Environment Agency which Green Spark were able to take a lead on. The investigation found that storm water from an adjacent industrial site ran through the Contract Logistics site to the watercourse. It was also discovered that the site has site-based interceptors which had been lost since occupancy 15 years prior. As part of the works, these locations were exposed and serviced, and the available drainage plan updated. The drainage plan proves a fantastic tool for the Contract Logistics site to begin planning their future pollution management. Example of a non-maintained interceptor…

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Interceptors are tools to help separate and retain contamination from storm or foul water drainage systems to prevent any off-site potential pollution. It’s therefore essential they are maintained.

Resolution and ongoing environmental management

The incident at hand was professionally concluded to be inert ochre scum, with all evidence being documented and the investigation closed. The contracts logistics company used this as an excellent opportunity to begin a new age of pollution management and began discussions with Green Spark to develop an environmental partnership.

Initial steps post incident included proactive service provision to a number of trial sites on the UK estate, with drainage system mapping and cleaning being carried out to highlight pollution pathways. Three sites received a one-day snapshot ISO 14001 audit to determine site environmental management and compliance requirements.

Over the intervening years, the Contract Logistics company has well and truly taken control of their pollution risk management. A league table of site scores was compiled to aid resource allocation to gain best value sustainable improvements, and the sites continue to work with Green Spark to make sustained progress in their ISO 14001 compliance and pollution risk controls.