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Deeside chemical company fined £100,000 by judge

A CHEMICAL company rated a major hazard site was fined £100,000 and slammed by a judge for its ‘abysmal management’ and ‘incompetent’ handling of safety procedures.

Archimica in Sandycroft will spend nearly £1m over two years trying to meet the demands of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Mold Crown Court heard.

The company, taken over by Italian-based Euticals Ltd in May, makes fine chemicals mainly for the pharmaceutical industry.

It pleaded guilty to failing to comply with three improvement notices demanded by HSE.

Judge Philip Hughes said: “The defendant is an internationally well-established company which has assets of over £3m.

“In the course of the company’s business it retains on-site quantities of dangerous substances, all of which have the potential to give rise to the release of toxic and very toxic substances, highly flammable or explosive.”

Regulations were in place to protect the employees and the public, he said.

Simon Parrington, prosecuting for the HSE, told the court although there had been no major injuries there had been a release of toxic gas in November. Had the company complied with HSE requirements the accident could probably have been avoided, he claimed.

The judge said: “It is right to say there has been no major incident and no-one injured, but the opportunity for a major accident and severe personal injury is encouraged by the company’s failure to comply with the law.”

Judge Hughes fined Archimica a total of £100,000 for failing to comply with the three improvement notices and ordered them to pay £8,344 prosecution costs.

He added: “An aggravating feature is the defendant company’s reckless regard for adhering to the law and somewhat dismissive attitude to those in the HSE trying to guide them.

“This is a case which has demonstrated in the defendant company a persistent lack of management control and abysmal level of disorganisation and incompetence.”

Richard Thomas, defending, said: “The company accepts health and safety procedures were not acceptable bearing in mind the potential high risks.”

The firm would spend almost £1m in expert consultants and plant improvements, he added.