Release of chemical effluent containing acetonitrile to soil and groundwater - issue 258

Issue Number: 258


A release of chemical effluent containing acetonitrile from the chemical waste water system in June 2015 led to a groundwater contamination on a Seveso II upper tier establishment. Three tonnes of acetonitrile were recovered over a three month period, with a cost of about 500,000 € required for the monitoring and clean up, as well as for the work to repair and reinstate the foundations of the building.
The release was due to corrosion of a shaft in the chemical waste water system by the chemical effluent stream. Organisational causes were at the root of this incident when the production facility changed ownership, and maintenance of the tiled surfaces in the effluent stream was no longer carried out. In addition, the regular third party inspection of the plant did not identify the corrosion. The operator believed that the shaft had been inspected, but the third party inspection body did not understand this to be part of their contract.

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).