Caterpillar fined for diesel spill into Irish Sea
Caterpillar Northern Ireland was yesterday convicted of discharging more than 40,000 litres of diesel into the Irish Sea at Larne.
The company pleaded guilty at Antrim Crown Court and was fined £7,500 (€8,400).
The conviction comes after the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) received a report from a member of the public that a significant fuel spill had occurred in the vicinity of Larne Harbour in June of last year.
NIEA immediately sent a water quality inspector to the area in order to carry out an investigation.
While the NIEA’s investigation was ongoing, staff from Caterpillar (NI) reported, via the NIEA Water Pollution Hotline, that a diesel spill had occurred overnight at their factory on the Old Glenarm Road, Larne.
Staff at the plant first discovered the spillage on 11 June, however they initially believed that the spill had been contained within the site.
The company, which employs over 1,500 in Northern Ireland, reported the incident to NIEA once they became aware that an unknown quantity of diesel had discharged to the Irish Sea.
NIEA’s investigation concluded that more than 40,000 litres of diesel had been discharged to the Irish Sea, impacting a significant area beyond the point of discharge at Larne.
Immediately following the incident, Caterpillar also conducted their own internal investigation into the reasons for the failure of their fuel storage and delivery systems.
During the hearing the Judge heard that company had put in place a number of additional 'fail safes' in respect of the operation of their fuel systems in order to minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future.
A sample taken at the time of the incident confirmed that the discharge was diesel.
Last year Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy construction equipment, announced that it was cutting up to 250 jobs in Northern Ireland after the global downturn in mining and oil exploration reduced demand for its products.
Much of the production work in Northern Ireland involves the manufacturing of diesel generators.