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What Is A Pollution Pathway?

Find out what is a pollution pathway and how to identify it.

What Is A Pollution Pathway?

When we talk about pollution leaving your site and causing an issue, pollution pathways are often mentioned, particularly when discussing drains, drainage plans and pollution prevention. This blog will explain what we mean by a pollution pathway and why it is important that you know what it means, especially in the context of your site.

Where does the term pollution pathway come from?

Pollution pathway comes from the source, pathway, receptor model. This model allows us to consider how best to manage pollution risk, reduce the chances of an incident occurring and put controls in place to limit the damage if pollution does occur.

What is a pollution pathway?

In order to identify a pollution pathway, we have to start by identifying the source of any potential pollution on a site such as oil or chemical storage areas, vehicle washes or refueling areas. Measures should be put in place here to prevent pollution occurring in the first place. Measures can include barrier protection around fuel tanks and regular inspection and maintenance of storage areas to identify any issues. After pollution sources have been identified, the pollution pathways must be considered. The pollution pathway determines how pollution travels from the pollution source to a receptor. A receptor is who or what will be, or can be, affected by pollution.

Common pathways to consider are air, land and water but there are many other pathways to take into account, including food chains, air conditioning ducts and drains. Some receptors can also act as additional pathways to affect another receptor, as well as being affected themselves.

Once the pollution pathways have been identified, controls can be applied to try and prevent pollution from reaching a receptor. Examples of controls would be bunding that contains leaks from a fuel tank and deployment of spill kits that can be used to contain and clear up spillages before they get into the environment.

Why do I need to know about my pollution pathway?

By understanding how pollution can travel through your site and enter the wider environment, you can put the necessary controls in place and think about measures to intercept the pollution and prevent or minimise environmental pollution. You can put procedures in place to prevent pollution from using a pathway but you will also need to be aware of how pollution is leaving your site. If the worst happens and pollution does enter a pathway, you will know exactly where it is going and therefore can take the necessary action to manage the incident. This may involve notifying the regulatory body or cleaning up a water body.

Everyone has a legal obligation to not cause or knowingly permit any pollution to enter the environment. Understanding your pollution pathway will help you to implement the necessary controls to manage your environmental risks and reduce the chances of your activities causing pollution, which could potentially lead to environmental damage, prosecution, fines, clean-up costs and loss of reputation.

To find out more about our Pollution Risk Management services click here or give us a call on 0330 440 4800.