A CHEMICAL company which threw illegal amounts of a poisonous chemical down the drain has escaped a fine.
Syngenta, which is based at chemical works in Leeds Road, Deighton, accidentally poured waste containing an illegally-high concentration of cyanide into a sewer, Huddersfield magistrates were told yesterday.
The chemical could have posed a health hazard to workers at a Deighton water treatment plant where the waste liquid was processed, said Shona Flood, prosecuting.
The water is treated at another plant along the pipeline before it is discharged into the River Calder and no wildlife was damaged by the accident.
Ms Flood told the court that a fault with testing equipment led Syngenta staff to believe that the liquid being poured into a public sewer on October 19, 2009 was of a safe concentration.
Defending, Ray Clarke said the company informed Yorkshire Water immediately when they realised the equipment was faulty.
Mr Clarke said: “Syngenta takes its responsibility very seriously and is very proactive in terms of the environment.”
He added that Syngenta had spend £300,000 on improvements at the works and that the accident was ‘unforeseeable’.
The company, which admitted the offence at the first opportunity, was given an absolute discharge and ordered to pay £3,623 costs.
Passing sentence bench chairwoman Alexis Walker said: “This incident had the potential to cause harm to Yorkshire Water employees, the public and the environment.
“Nonetheless I am satisfied that Syngenta has acted in a responsible manner both during and after the event.”
After the hearing Syngenta’s Head of Communications Andrew Coker, said: “We take this extremely seriously.
“I’m grateful to the court for judgement and we fully apologise for falling below the very high standards we set for ourselves.”