Paper and cardboard manufacturing pollution prevention

Paper manufacturing and land contamination


If you operate a paper and cardboard production business, you could be causing land contamination from:

  • spills or leaks of fuel, oil or chemicals from your storage areas
  • pollutants seeping from leaking pipes or poorly maintained drainage systems
  • inappropriate handling or disposal of hazardous substances such as chemicals or fuel

The paper industry uses chemicals and materials that can cause contamination, including:

  • metals and metallic compounds
  • acids and alkalis
  • inorganic elements and compounds
  • solvents, oils and biocides

Many areas of land in Northern Ireland are contaminated by their past use. For example, land could be contaminated where chemicals have seeped into the land from previous industrial activities, or where previous owners have buried waste.

Responsibilities for cleaning up land contamination

You could be responsible for cleaning up land contamination, for example, if you:

  • develop land that is contaminated
  • cause environmental damage to land
  • cause contamination in breach of your pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit

You could be required to clean up land contamination before you are allowed to carry out development.

If you cause serious land contamination that affects the water environment, protected species or habitats, or human health, this can be classed as environmental damage. You could be responsible for land contamination if it is classed as environmental damage - see responsibilities for land contamination.

You could also be responsible for land contamination if it is caused by you breaching the terms of your PPC permit.

Good practice to deal with contaminated land

Ask a consultant to carry out a desktop survey and possibly some site investigations to check if land could be contaminated before you purchase it.

Research the history of your site and the activities carried out on it. Investigate any land that could be contaminated and see if you can identify who may have caused any contamination.

Store oil and chemicals safely to avoid causing pollution.

Keep absorbent materials and other containment equipment close to where you might need them. Ensure that they are suitable for the type and quantity of fuel, oil and chemicals you store and use on site. Ensure that your staff know where they are and how to use them properly - see storing chemicals.

Have a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills and use it with your drainage plan. Ensure that all staff on site know about the procedure and how to put it into practice - see pollution incident prevention at paper and cardboard production sites.

  • NIEA Helpline
    0300 200 7856