The most important introduction in recent months which affects us all is The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009. This new piece of legislation became law on 30th October 2009 replacing The Groundwater Regulations 1998 with tougher conditions and penalties applying.
For example, if convicted, a fine of up to £50,000 and/or imprisonment is now possible. The act covers both hazardous and non hazardous substances and makes matters quite clear as this extract (Regulation 13) shows; "It is an offence to cause or knowingly permit the discharge of any hazardous substance or non-hazardous pollutant in circumstances that might lead to an indirect input of that hazardous substance or non-hazardous pollutant into groundwater unless it is carried on under and in accordance with a permit granted by the Agency under this regulation".
Substances (of interest to the turf maintenance sector) now include:
• Mineral oils and hydrocarbons (oil, grease, petrol, diesel fuel etc.)
• Many pesticides and herbicides
• Many solvents
• Many biocides
• Ammonia and nitrates
To avoid any confusion, these Regulations implement in England and Wales the new EU Groundwater Directive 2006/118EC and continue to implement the EU Water Framework Directive 2006/60/EC. So, whilst The Groundwater Regulations apply specifically to England and Wales, all EU member states are affected. In Scotland, for example, you are committing an offence if you carry out an activity that is likely to cause water pollution without SEPA's authorisation.
These are powerful pieces of legislation and must be complied with. The Environment Agency (EA), through its Environmental Officers, frequently carries out compliance inspections and enforcement duties. Prosecutions for waste and pollution offences are increasing and figures for 2008 show that 250 companies were prosecuted, with fines totalling over £3 million.
Is now the time to upgrade your facilities to ensure you are within the law?
Take a close look at your washpad. Is it compliant or does the washwater go to ground? A dedicated washpad should be in use. That's one with a low curb surround that prevents washwater leaving the pad except to a suitable facility. Installing a closed loop biological water recycling system is probably the best solution. It is future-proof and offers the added benefits of water savings. A cost effective system, such as the WTL* approved ClearWater, makes wash-off far more efficient, enabling you to turn round machinery that much quicker.
Are your petrol and chemical storage facilities compliant?
The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 and The Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply. Most responsible establishments will have invested in properly bunded fuel storage and dispensing but, if not, can you afford to ignore legislation?
Many are now incorporating such storage with a wash system, creating a pollution prevention area. "Turn-Key" packages for washpad build, recycling system and installation with fuel and chemical storage are available. Don't forget that Spill Kits are a requirement too!
What about oft neglected or outdated appropriate signage in and around such storage areas?
If you store and carry petrol, an inexpensive and legal way to store and transport up to 4 x 5 litre jerrycans of petrol is to use a Transit Box.
Check to see if you are meeting your responsibilities for Waste Management. As producers of hazardous waste, you will have registered with the EA and have a Premises Code. No doubt you also have a contract with a fully licensed waste management provider who will be providing you with UN approved and labelled waste containers (replaced at each collection).
Check you have proper documentation each time collections are made and that, if inspected, audit trails have been established; especially important if the company you have the contract with is not actually collecting your waste.
You may have requirements for "one-off" collections and disposal of redundant chemicals, paints, old electrical appliances, fluorescent tubes, batteries, etc. It is not safe to hoard many such items, and correct disposal under appropriate regulations should be sought.
Check your facilities and services now and remember, ignorance of legal requirements is no defence for non-compliance!
*WTL is the UK Government backed Water Technology List and approves water saving technologies that meet certain criteria.
David Mears, Joint Managing Director, Highspeed Group Ltd.
Tel: 0845 600 3572