In June 2017, Tesco was fined £8 million for breaches of environmental and safety law. The prosecution followed an incident in July 2014 at a petrol filling station in Haslingden operated by Tesco. 23,500 litres of petrol were lost from a fuel tank during a 29-hour period, and the fuel entered sewers and the River Irwell. A multi-agency response took place, involving the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, United Utilities, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Police.
The Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council jointly prosecuted Tesco for breaches of the Environmental Permitting Regulations and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations. Tesco pleaded guilty to both offences.
The court found Tesco had failed to address a known issue with the fuel delivery system, had an inadequate alarm system in place and had poor emergency procedures once the incident occured. Residents had to leave their homes, reporting sickness and headaches, and fish were killed in the river. Tesco was fined £5 million for the effects on health and safety and £3 million for the environmental pollution.
Following the recent case on legal privilege, and the criticisms made by the court of Tesco's emergency procedures, all organizations should consider the high risk areas of their business and how they should respond, both on a practical level and legally when incidents do occur.