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Egg Company Shells Out After Court Case

by 5m Editor
27 January 2010, at 10:57a.m.

UK - An egg processing business has been fined for risking pollution to the environment by illegally spreading waste on land near its factory.

Britovo Limited on 22 January pleaded guilty at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court to one environmental offence relating to potentially polluting activity at its plant near the town.

The company, of Springfield Farm, Cold Cotes Road, Kettlesing Head, Harrogate, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 towards prosecution costs.

Paul Harley, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said environment officers visited Britovo’s plant at Kettlesing Head, near Harrogate, in June 2008 after receiving a complaint.

The egg processing involves breaking eggs, which are then blended and pasteurised to produce egg products for sale.

Liquid waste from the process includes egg protein and the plant is washed through with caustic soda and chlorine to sterilise it. The resulting waste and dirty water is treated before being spread on nearby farmland.

Washings from the egg processing are classed as controlled waste, for which the company required an environmental permit or an authorised exemption from the Environment Agency

When environment officers visited the plant on 10 June 2008, they noticed a sour smell and told the company the practice of spreading waste water on land there had to stop until the company either obtained a permit or proved its operation was exempt from needing a permit. Exemptions apply to some agricultural and food by-products which can have benefits to land.

Mr Harley said the company indicated it would apply for an exemption but supporting technical documents were out of date and the application was refused. A subsequent application for an exemption in July 2008 was granted, allowing Britovo to spread 14,000 tonnes of waste per annum (14,000,000 litres).

The court heard high protein levels in the waste water could adversely affect local watercourses and the wildlife living in them.

The company was aware in April 2007 that it needed to apply for an environmental permit exemption but its failure to do so, and the fact it saved money by this omission, were aggravating features of the case, said Mr Harley.

In mitigation, the court heard that Britovo had co-operated with the Environment Agency investigation and the company was given credit for its early guilty plea.

Britovo Limited was charged with one offence that on or before 11 June 2008, it did operate a regulated facility, namely the spreading of egg washings (a waste operation), on land at Kettlesing Head, Harrogate, without being authorised by an environmental permit.