Disposal of polluting materials

Control Measure Knowledge

The disposal of polluting materials, including fire water run-off, may be an appropriate action to take for an incident, especially if containment is not feasible. The method used for disposal will depend on the nature of the incident, the type and quantity of polluting materials and the resources available.

During the early stages of an incident, when activities to prevent harm or stop the incident developing are the priority, disposal to a foul sewer may be considered suitable, and is likely to be required for fire water run-off. However, this method may be appropriate for other polluting materials, such as chemically contaminated wash water, contaminated potable water or other spillages.

Failure to control the flow of polluting materials could result in them entering the water environment, or cause the foul sewer to overflow. If the foul sewerage system is considered the best option, the sewerage undertaker will need to be involved. They will consider the request and take into account the likely impact if they do not approve the discharge. Agreement from the appropriate environmental agency should be obtained before any release takes place; this may initially be obtained by telephone, which is later applied for and confirmed in writing.

Contaminated water can be taken away in tankers for disposal, which can reduce levels of pollution and debris. For more information refer to Foundation for environmental protection – Additional pollution control techniques.

On-site arrangements may exist for the disposal of polluting materials at locations that pose a known risk to the environment. Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI) should capture these planned arrangements and inform fire and rescue service operational plans. It may be beneficial for fire and rescue services to participate in joint training and exercises at these sites.

An on-site emergency box could contain information about ground soakaways, stopcocks, pollution inspection points, retention ponds and other pollution control devices.

If the emergency phase of an incident has passed, the fire and rescue service may not be responsible for disposal of polluting materials. The environmental agency officer should inform the responsible person about their responsibility to contain, organise and remove waste, and cost recovery under the ‘polluter pays’ principle. If the environmental agency is not present, personnel may need to provide the responsible person with this information.

Local authorities are usually responsible for playing fields, open public spaces, beaches and minor roads. Landowners, owners or occupiers are usually responsible for private properties. Highways agencies are usually responsible for major roads.

For more information refer to:

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions