Probe after diesel spilled into river

AN investigation is underway after around 200 litres of diesel fuel leaked from a malt manufacturers into a Suffolk river.The diesel spilled into the River Gipping from Muntons, in Stowmarket, and travelled as far as Hawksmill, in Needham Market.

By John Howard

AN investigation is underway after around 200 litres of diesel fuel leaked from a malt manufacturers into a Suffolk river.

The diesel spilled into the River Gipping from Muntons, in Stowmarket, and travelled as far as Hawksmill, in Needham Market.

It is the second investigation the company has faced in as many days, after a forklift driver was injured in an accident on Thursday .


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But the Environment Agency praised the way Muntons, which has been producing malt for more than 80 years, had handled the diesel spill.

A spokesperson for the malt suppliers said there had been a “significant overflow” of diesel after a compressor on site had been topped up at around 10pm on Friday and the siphon was not disconnected.

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This resulted in the excess fuel overflowing into a drain that leads to the River Gipping at around 11.20pm.

The alarm was raised by a Muntons employee, who immediately informed managers.

The spokesperson said: “Straightaway the Environment Agency were informed and they notified water extraction companies using the river that they should stop extraction until the river was cleared.

“It is estimated that around 200 litres of diesel may have entered the river. Staff placed a series of booms across the river at Muntons site entrance to prevent as much diesel as possible running down the river.

“By 9.30am Saturday morning when the Environment Agency inspected the river the diesel had got as far as Hawksmill, Needham Market.

“A team approach by the Environment Agency, Muntons and a local specialist company placed additional booms at Needham to halt the flow of the diesel and collect it so that it can be skimmed off until the river is clear. A meticulous clean up operation will now be carried out.”

Muntons environment manager Kit Wells added that it was “extremely disappointing to have such a serious spillage on site”.

“Muntons are very proud to have an environmental standard award which shows our concern for the environment and every member of staff has been trained to be aware of environmental risks and remedial action,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “Muntons had done everything that they needed to do at the time.”

She said the diesel would have no affect on fish as it floats but the RSPCA was informed to watch out for oiled ducks.

She added: “Anglian Water were also informed as a precaution as they have an abstraction point around seven miles downstream and at that stage it was not clear how much had spilled.

“They closed down their abstraction point as a precaution but the diesel did not get that far. It travelled around three to four miles. We are carrying out an investigation to establish exactly what happened.”

The spill happened a day after a forklift driver at Muntons was injured while loading an export container with palletised product on Thursday .

Two fire crews were called to help remove the driver from his cab, who was then taken to Ipswich Hospital by ambulance.

Muntons has begun a full investigation into the cause of that incident.

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