William Grant & Sons and Chivas Brothers are required by the Scottish Environmental Agency (Sepa) to stop spills coming from their Glenfiddich and Glen Keith distilleries in Speyside. The businesses have also given Sepa and other conservation organizations money totaling £36,100 in an effort to correct the issue.
Campaigners who are deeply concerned about the hazards to the public's health and the potential destruction of rivers have spoken out. They demand that Sepa exercise all of its authority and show its fangs in response to their dissatisfaction with what they see as light penalties for polluters.
Recently, Sepa released a list of "enforcement undertakings," which are commitments made by businesses that have broken environmental laws in an effort to avoid fines and other consequences.
It's interesting to note that two important contributions to this collection of initiatives come from the £6 billion whiskey sector, which is well known for its environmental efforts.
In January 2022, William Grant informed Sepa that fermented liquid had escaped from the renowned Glenfiddich distillery at Dufftown. According to the company's report, the event regrettably caused "sewage fungus" to spread throughout a 1.3-kilometer section of the River Fiddich.
Sepa found negative effects on river invertebrates, which are important animals including insects, worms, shrimp, snails, and other tiny critters necessary for ecological health.
The leak was ascribed to cooling system failure when pressure was raised for cleaning reasons, per the agreement Grant given. The accident was blamed on "operator error," which led to staff retraining on proper system functioning.
The temporary suspension of whisky production to address the problem cost £6,000 in lost revenue and an increase in energy expenditures of £35,000. In addition, the business promised to provide £12,000 to the Spey Foundation for studies on river species and to contribute £2,500 voluntarily to Sepa's costs.
After their Glen Keith distillery in Banffshire had a spill of 300 liters of oil in 2018, damaging a four-kilometer length of the River Isla, Chivas similarly provided Sepa with an equivalent legal obligation in 2022. According to the corporation, Sepa's analysis showed that the impact on invertebrates was "limited".
The incident happened when a storage tank overflowed during an unexpected evening tanker delivery, according to Chivas' management. An embankment meant to stop leaking into the river failed because it was incorrectly believed that the tank's capacity was enough.
Chivas agreed to investigate embankments at additional places after lowering the operational level of the storage tank, repairing the embankment, and fixing the problem. They also promised to pay £9,600 towards Sepa's expenses and provide £12,000 to the Devon, Bogie, and Isla Rivers Trust for environmental improvements.
The unidentified farm that spilled slurry into the Allan Water near Dunblane and caused fish deaths was one of the several enforcement undertakings that Sepa accepted in 2022. The two remaining events were "discoloration" of the Dryfe Water near Lockerbie brought on by engineering work in September 2021 and contamination of the River Ayr as a result of sewage line repair work in June 2021.