£300,000 decontamination claim fails

Posted: 29th November 2012

Buildiong site, waste landA landowner has failed to convince a Technology and Construction Court judge that workmen contracted to dismantle heavy machinery on an industrial site caused oil contamination that cost more than £300,000 to clean up. Dismissing the landowner’s breach of contract claim, the court ruled that the source of the contamination was historic and it had not been caused by the workmen.

Rivercove Trustee Limited owned the heavy industrial site lying on a peninsula by the Stour estuary, in Essex, and had employed Euro Rubber Lines to dismantle and remove heavy, oil-lubricated, machinery. Rivercove argued that the methods used by Euro Rubber’s workmen were responsible for oil contamination that was said to have cost £331,677 to remedy.

The court ruled that the contamination resulted from the historic condition of the site, rather than any breach of contractual duties by Euro Rubber. There was also insufficient documentary evidence that the cost of the clean-up had truly fallen on Rivercore or to support the quantum of damages claimed.