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UK cosmetics company fined for pollution

By Simon Pitman , 15-May-2006

Eros Laboratories, a contract cosmetics manufacturer based in the Midlands, UK, has been fined for polluting a 2 kilometre stretch of river with pink shower gel, causing extensive damage to water life in the affected area.

Managers at the company said that they were unaware of the leak at the time and were also not aware of guidelines over pollution prevention and storage of drums and containers.

Although the company's management would not give any comment about the incident, which led to a £3,000 (€4,400) fine, the UK's Environment Agency says that the company was warned about pollution prevention and the storage of potentially hazardous materials two years ago.

The pollution, which occurred on a stretch of the Potterhanworth Beck that adjoined the company's yard, was said to have killed extensive aquatic life, including pea mussles, leeches and fresh water shrimp.

The Environmental Agency was alerted to the incident following reports of foam in the river coming from a large drainage pipe connected to the company's premises. This pipe was meant to be for rain water only, but it appears that a spillage from a drum in the storage area caused the leak.

The company's site, which is used for storage, was reportedly to have been broken in to, suggesting that the spillage may have been caused by intruders, but this claim has not been substantiated.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer David Hutchinson said: "This case hi-lights how important it is for companies to pay attention to their pollution prevention measures.

"Despite vandalism being the suggested cause of this incident, it is the company which is ultimately responsible for ensuring polluting liquids are stored securely.

"We strongly recommend that any polluting liquids such as oils, chemicals or in this case waste hygiene products should be stored in suitably contained areas for example impermeable bunds."

The Environment Agency also took UK cosmetics company Lush to court back in January of this year, over claims that the company failed to supply certificates of compliance for its recycling programme.

At the time Lush said that it had complied with regulations, stating that the fine imposed was simply due to the fact that it had failed to register for the scheme as part of an administrative oversight.

During the court hearing Lush stressed that it currently re-covered and re-cycled 85 per cent of its waste packaging. Its compliance with such regulations forms part of the company's image as an environmentally-friendly and ethical business.

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