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Esso and the Scottish Government in Contaminated Land Battle

February 20, 2015
Environmental Protection

Oil Company Esso, is to take action against the Scottish Government over claims that a site it owns in Glasgow, is being contaminated by chemicals from land developed for the M74 motorway.

The Scottish Government acquired the former Brenntag Inorganic Chemicals site, adjacent to an Esso owned petrol station on West Street, in 2004 to help complete the M74 road link outside Glasgow. Esso, who have retained interest in the adjacent land since the petrol station closed two years ago, now say that chemicals including trichloroethylene have contaminated groundwater beneath their site.

The company claim that the site value has already decreased by £350,000 and have estimated that remedial works could cost in the region of £1.6 million. Esso Petroleum wants ministers to take action to prevent further leaks and is seeking damages for the cost of monitoring its land and loss of value.

Scottish ministers had sought to have the action dismissed, on the grounds that Esso had not made relevant pleadings of fault on its part. Speaking at the Court of Session in Edinburgh Lord Doherty said: “It avers the existence of a continuing nuisance and that the first defenders (the Scottish Ministers) are not merely the proprietors but also have statutory responsibility for the management and maintenance of the M74 land. I do not think it can properly be concluded, without proof, that the operations must necessarily fall out with the ‘inherently hazardous’ category.” The case will now proceed to inquiry.