Whyte & Mackay recieved a GBP9,000 fine for the oil spill

Whyte & Mackay recieved a GBP9,000 fine for the oil spill

Whyte & Mackay has today (16 July) been fined GBP9,000 (US$14,065) after pleading guilty to leaking nearly 20,000 litres of oil into a protected habitat for birds. 

The fusel oil spillage happened at the United Spirits-owned firm's Invergordon plant, near Dalmore, last August. The spill ended up in the waters of the Cromarty Firth, an internationally-recognised habitat for birds, including ospreys, whooper swans and greylag geese.

The company pleaded guilty to the offence, a contravention of the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011, at Tain Sheriff Court.

Craig Harris, head of the wildlife and environment crime unit at the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service said the spillage was "entirely preventable". 

He added: "Industry must ensure the proper maintenance of their systems to ensure they meet their environmental obligations." 

Harris said the environmental impact was "minimal" but that was "purely down to good fortune". 

"There could have been grave consequences if the leak had gone undetected or if it had occurred during the breeding season,” he added. 

Whyte & Mackay said in a statement: "We accept full responsibility and apologise profusely for the incident.

"The company was investing in a rolling programme of improvements in the area of the spill when the incident happened, and we had just finished a major refurbishment of the adjacent area.

"As a result of the incident we are investing significantly in the infrastructure to ensure this does not happen again."