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National Wildlife Day: Why is Spill Prevention Important?


In conjunction with National Wildlife Day, we take a look at how animals can be affected by a leak of an unnatural substance into a waterway or drain and why spill prevention is so important.

The Environment Agency are clear in their guidelines on what can and can’t be disposed of in drains or waterways – deliberately or accidentally. If you pollute, you are directly responsible and could receive an unlimited fine, go to prison for up to 5 years or both. You may also have to pay the cost of the clean-up.

Any substance that cannot be found naturally in an environment has the potential to pollute; shampoo, pesticides, milk, petrol, vegetable oil, slurry, solvents… Some of these substances are directly toxic but others can stop oxygen entering the water, indirectly affecting our wildlife.

The consequences of a spill can be disastrous on any level. It does not have to be on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 to cause untold damage or our animals and environment.

Spilled oil, in particular, is poisonous and can affect organisms via digestion, inhalation or skin/eye contact. Additionally, it can coat feathered or furry animals, smothering them or disabling their ability to maintain their body temperature.

The liquid could be something not so obviously harmful such as out-of-date milk. Pouring off milk down a drain can carry a financial or jail sentence for businesses in the UK, although many businesses are unaware of this. Milk must be disposed of as Category 3 ABP (Animal By-Products) via an appropriate contractor. It is highly dangerous to marine life as it contains bacteria that need oxygen otherwise used by aquatic life, potentially suffocating any nearby organism.

The truth is, death by any unnatural substance in our waterway is unnecessary and cruel. It is each and every one of our responsibilities to ensure liquid that shouldn’t be in our sewers, rivers, drains or seas, isn’t. Spill prevention matters.

Drain covers provide an excellent way to safeguard the environment from pollution should a spill occur. As an additional measure, all onsite drains should be colour-coded in accordance with EA advice for the avoidance of doubt:

  • Foul water drains painted red
  • Surface water drains painted blue

Our Spill Kits (which come in chemical, maintenance or oil selective) should be on hand and fully stocked, ready to contain and absorb any liquid spilled. Why not check out our Chemical Spill Response Guide or our Chemical Spill Kit range?

Our Containment Boom range protects waterways be creating a temporary floating barrier, allowing the reduction of pollution to shorelines, ultimately making the recovery of oils easier should a spill occur.

You can help reduce the likelihood of pollution by following our guidance or exploring our extensive product range either online or our new catalogue. Alternatively, contact our expert team who can provide you with a free site assessment.

REMEMBER: You may need an environmental permit if you’re discharging substances to surface water or groundwater, working with waste or operating an installation, eg a metal finishers or a food production site.

Explore more spill control resources.