Ayrshire composting firm fined £17,000 for offensive odours

date17 June 2015

A Kilmarnock composting company was fined £17,000 on 15 June 2015 for causing offensive odours at their site over a three month period in 2013.

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Billy Bowie Special Projects Limited pled guilty at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court to failing to comply with a condition of their permit that provided that all emissions to air shall be free from offensive odour.

They also pled guilty to keeping and managing waste including fish waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health in that they:

  • Failed to carry out adequate checks to, and maintain, the biofilter (which controls odour),
  • Failed to take adequate measures to ensure that a roller door was closed, which enabled odour to escape, and
  • Increased the quantities of fish waste received on site without taking adequate measures to account for the increased odour production.

The matter was investigated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

SEPA received a number of complaints from the public regarding offensive odours from the Billy Bowie Special Project’s site. SEPA officers investigated and detected odours emanating from the site which they considered offensive on numerous occasions between September and December 2013. SEPA made Billy Bowie Special Projects aware of a number of public complaints as well as those which had been substantiated by SEPA.

On one occasion SEPA officers noticed a large roller shutter door on the maturation shed was lying open. This shed is where the composting process is carried out. This door should only be open when people or vehicles are passing through it, and then be closed again (to prevent escape of odour). However, officers saw only one vehicle use it in the 30 minutes in total they spent watching the door and it was not closed again after the vehicle had passed.

At the end of October SEPA received a call from the site to report that the site’s bio-filter was completely dry. A biofilter is only effective if it is kept moist because it is the bacteria living in it that de-nature the odorous compounds. Regular checks should have been carried out to prevent the biofilter drying out and offensive odour being released into the air as without a functioning biofilter the plant has no means of abating odour produced by the composting process. SEPA advised Billy Bowie Special Projects to stop taking fish waste, which is more likely to cause odour, until the bio-filter was working again but despite this fish waste continued to be brought onto the site until 11 November 2013. Composting continued and was never halted.

Gavin Ferguson, SEPA’s reporting officer, said:

The odour had a significant impact on the lives of people living and working near the site. Complainants have explained that the odours have prevented them from opening windows at their homes or using their gardens, and in some cases they did not want to go outside at all. Complainants described the odour as ‘heavy and sickening’, and ‘horrible’, ‘heavy’ and ‘putrid.’

“Billy Bowie Special Projects Limited operates a process which is inherently odorous and there are conditions in their permit which, if complied with, should ensure that offensive odours do not leave the site. By failing to comply with certain conditions of their permit and also failing to properly maintain the biofilter, the company have caused a significant negative impact to the local area. By keeping a proportion of the site’s fish waste unrefrigerated in the reception building for several days as part of the bulking-up activity, they further added to their likelihood of creating odour.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The exact charges Billy Bowie Special Projects Limited pled guilty to were:

(001) Between 12th September 2013 and 2nd December 2013 both dates inclusive at Moorfield Industrial Estate, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire KA2 0BA and elsewhere you BILLY BOWIE SPECIAL PROJECTS LIMITED, being a permit holder in terms of regulation 6 of the aftermentioned regulations and site operator, did fail to comply with condition 6.4.1, a condition of said permit which stated that All emissions to air from the Permitted Installation shall be free from offensive odour, as perceived by an Authorised Person, outside the Site Boundary in that on 12 and 16 September,8, 16, 23, 26 and 29 October, 1 and 11 November, and 2 December all 2013, offensive odour from the permitted installation was detected outside the site boundary by an authorised person, namely an Officer of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency;

CONTRARY to the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 Regulation 30(1)(b) as amended, and the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 Section 2

(004) Between 1st July 2013 and 2nd December 2013 Between at Moorfield Industrial Estate, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire KA2 0BA you BILLY BOWIE SPECIAL PROJECTS LIMITED did keep and manage controlled waste, namely green waste, household food waste, wood waste and fish waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, in that you did b) fail to carry out adequate checks on the bio-filter, c) fail to maintain the bio-filter, d) fail to take adequate measures to ensure that the large roller door to the maturation building was operated in accordance with condition 6.4.12 of the licence, j) increase the quantities of fish waste received on site without taking adequate measures to account for the increased odour production;

CONTRARY to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 33(1)(c) and (6) as amended