A DALRY firm has been hit with the biggest civil penalty of the year for any firm in Scotland by the country's environmental watchdog.

The heavy punishment for the DSM Nutritional Products factory formed all but £10,000 of the penalties handed out by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

The Herald reported back in May how the health food supplement manufacturer had been slapped with a penalty of £75,000 for failing to provide a 'leakage detection system' on equipment containing powerful, and potentially harmful, greenhouse gases.

It was the very first penalty to be issued in Scotland under the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015 (the F-Gas regulations 2015), which are designed to control fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases).

Jennifer Shearer, Head of Enforcement at SEPA, said: “Civil penalties are a vital part of our enforcement toolkit, providing a deterrence to those who choose to ignore Scotland’s environmental regulations.

"Enforcement action is a key part of our job as a regulator, ensuring we disrupt and take action against those who harm the environment, communities and legitimate businesses.  

"We’re committed to being proportionate, consistent, accountable and transparent in  our enforcement outcomes.” 

Read more: https://www.ardrossanherald.com/news/23525323.dsm-dalry-fined-sepa-gas-emissions/

We reported in May this year that DSM operated equipment that required an F-gas to function, and that the company had to submit data to SEPA every year under the Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI).

In 2020 the emissions reported totalled 898.20kg, more than eight times the reporting threshold and considerably higher than previous years.

That led to the firm being flagged in the SPRI as one of the three worst emitters in Scotland for F-gases.

SEPA's specialist carbon reduction, energy and industry unit began an investigation and discovered there had been accidental releases of F-gases from the site.

DSM advised SEPA that the two water chillers, responsible for most of the leaks, had been installed in 1980 by the previous operator of the site.

The company said that refrigerants have changed over the years, and that at some point the chillers' holding capacity had increased, but labels on the machines were not updated.

DSM said at the time that it had co-operated fully with the SEPA investigation and provided information and documents in a timely manner.

After demonstrating that it had installed a leak detection system and put in place a plan to reduce its reliance on F-gases, the firm's penalty was reduced by SEPA to one of £75,000.

A spokesperson for DSM told the Herald at the time: "Safety, health and environment are top priorities.

"We wholly regret this unintentional breach of regulations. When it came to light, we took immediate steps to correct the situation by installing an automatic leak detection system on our chiller units.

"We also focused on preventing further emissions, which were caused by a one-off equipment failure rather than a systemic issue.

"As part of our ongoing investment programmes, we are committed to phasing out all F-gases on site at Dalry by 2030.”