Leeds Crown Court heard how an engineer unintentionally opened a valve on top of a tanker at Syngenta Ltd’s Huddersfield plant. This caused the release of 3.5-3.8 tonnes of paraquat dichloride solution, a deadly type of weed-killer.

Fortunately no one was harmed, but the Court was told how inhaling only 50 grams of the substance could cause death or serious injury. The substance could have spread across the site to road users had the wind been blowing in a different direction.

Syngenta Ltd admitted failing to ensure that work equipment was maintained in an efficient state and failing to take all measures necessary to prevent a major accident.

Syngenta Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and fined £200 000 plus costs of £13,041.