Lanes team in quick response to factory pollution alert

Lanes drainage engineers based in Leeds showed their pollution expertise when they were called to a factory where a by-product of the production process had leaked into a nearby stream.

The factory managers discovered the leak when they were told about the water in the stream changing colour because of contamination.

Geoff Davis, Area Development Manager for the Lanes Group Leeds Depot, said: “They couldn’t locate the source of the spill so called us in as a matter of urgency to investigate what had gone wrong.

“When we arrive at a pollution alert like this, we follow a set procedure to manage the situation based on set priorities. First, is the safety of local people, then we work to eliminate the cause of the emergency.

“In this case, the substance was not harmful to factory workers or the general public but would have caused problems for wildlife if it was allowed to build up in the stream.

“We were able to find out where it was coming from and began pumping it into holding tanks on site. We also put a bung – a large stopper – into the pipe, so there was no way the substance could escape again.

“We then began to work on finding the cause of the leak, further down the drainage system.

“Eventually, we found a three metres deep wet well which was full of water contaminated with the substance. Once we’d pumped out the water, we discovered a butterfly valve, a valve that isolates and regulates the flow of liquid, which was defective.

“So we installed bungs to prevent further water from the site going through the valve and into the stream.

“We got to it just in time. The factory owners were very grateful to say the least. We helped avert what could have been a disaster.”“It was clear that the butterfly valve was allowing contaminated water into the stream, and causing it to back up to the point that it was about to flood the factory site and get into other surface drains, which would have caused an even bigger problem.

The Lanes Group drainage engineers then carried out a full CCTV video survey of the factory’s drainage system which allowed them to make firm recommendations about what needed to be done to prevent a leak could not happen again.

Geoff Davis said: “Factories develop over time as industrial processes and technology changes. This can cause problems for companies if they don’t know precisely how their drainage system works and whether it is in good repair.

“In these circumstances, it pays dividends to avoid the risk of huge fines and clear-up costs, reputational damage and disruption to production caused by pollution leaks like this one.

“Calling us in to do a survey of a factory drainage system before a problem occurs is both less expensive in the long run and much less stressful.”

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