The brouhaha over the level of fines imposed on Friday following the 2005 Buncefield oil depot disaster was not unexpected. This was despite the penalties being the largest ever imposed by a British court for an environmental offence.

St Albans crown court fined three companies a total of £5.38m for polluting groundwater, for health and safety law violations and for breaching the major hazards control (COMAH) regulations. The environmental component totalled £1.35m. Together with prosecution and investigation costs, the full bill imposed on the firms came to £9.43m. (more…)