An investigation by the Environment Agency found that the company had breached its environmental permit when contaminated water was washed down highway drains and into the River Don in 2019.
Costain submitted an enforcement undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.
An enforcement undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a donation to a wildlife charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.
Costain had an environmental permit that allowed it to discharge water treated by a sediment treatment facility into the River Don during work to the A19 at Testos roundabout.
On 6th December 2019 an Environment Agency officer in the area reported a plume of sediment in the river.
Following a dry spell, Costain had decided to jet wash and sweep the road surface to remove a build-up of mud. However, the road sweeper was not powerful enough to suck up all of the dirty water and instead the contaminated water ran directly into highway drains, bypassing the company’s sediment treatment measures, and into the River Don.
After the incident the company introduced a new monitoring and maintenance regime as well as training for site staff, and no further incidents occurred. There was no long-term ecological impact on the river.
Environment Agency investigating officer Josh Laidler said: “While we will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases, enforcement undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.
“They allow polluters to correct and restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents by improving their procedures, helping ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.”
Tyne Rivers Trust, a registered charity, plans to use the donation on projects that will improve water quality in the River Don catchment.
It is not known whether Costain will claim tax relief on this charitable donation. We have asked the question…