Heineken for Environmental Breaches


“Environment Agency – The company was fined £500 on each of three charges of breaching its permit and £800 on failing to notify the Environment Agency of the breach, without delay. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £8,225 to the Environment Agency which brought the case

. The court heard that Heineken’s Tadcaster brewery site is regulated by the Environment Agency through an environmental permit. On 5 August 2008 faults at the site’s plant which resulted in 32,600 litres of cider being diverted to the nearby effluent treatment plant. The effluent treatment plant was built for the use of Heineken, but is operated by a third party. Faults on the system which should have been detected weren’t as the company had earlier bypassed the plant’s electronic monitoring system. The court heard that the company’s permit requires it to notify the Environment Agency without delay of any issues such as those with the monitoring system, but it failed to do so until six days later. The court also heard that on 8 August 2008 32,000 litres of beer were lost to the effluent treatment plant when an employee selected the wrong operating mode on a vat full of beer. There were no training materials or written procedures provided to staff on how to operate this system properly. There were no notices or safeguards in the selection process however the company has since disabled this part of the system. The Environment Agency wasn’t notified of this incident until three days later. On 31 August, 2009, 11,000 kilogrammes of yeast was diverted to an emergency tank after a pipe worked loose. An unknown amount of yeast was lost over a period of four hours. There was no inspection regime for this piece of equipment, so it was not maintained in good condition. In mitigation, the company was given credit for its early guilty plea and the fact that there was no impact on the environment. Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency spokesman said: “This case proves that we take environmental regulation seriously, regardless of the size of the company involved. “Small breaches in procedure can lead to big environmental impacts. We’re lucky on this occasion that there was no pollution, but the rules are there for a reason and, working with the courts, we will ensure that they are upheld.””