URGENT action must be taken to restore public confidence in official sources of pollution said WWF Scotland today.
The environmental group made the call following a newspaper report  that publicly-available information on toxic pollution may be wrong – sometimes by a factor of a million.
Says a spokesperson: “Landfill sites, chemical companies and paper mills turn out to have reported the wrong figures to SEPA’s Pollution Release Inventory.”
Commenting, WWF Scotland’s director, Dr Richard Dixon, said:
“This pollution register should be an invaluable tool for local communities and researchers but this brief survey has turned up so many errors and on such a scale that it calls into question the whole value of the register itself.
“SEPA clearly need major changes to the way they check the data that comes in from companies in future, but they also need to go back and check every item in the register if people are to trust it in future.
“Companies which are sending in nonsense figures need to realise that they have to get this right.
“SEPA shouldn’t have to waste time correcting basic errors and companies which are wasting public money in this way should be made to pay.
“The most concerning aspect of these revelations is that, if companies can accidentally over-report by a factor of a million, there may be other companies who are deliberately getting away with under-reporting on a grand scale.
“The inadequacies of Scotland’s pollution register highlight the potential for bad companies to abuse the trusting relationship that SEPA tries to generate with industry.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 Sunday Herald ‘The Sleeping Watchdog”’ 24th July 2011 on pages 12-15
 SEPA’s Pollution Release Inventory is here: http://www.sepa.org.uk/air/process_industry_regulation/pollutant_release_inventory.aspx
Many of the incorrect figures have now been removed from the site.
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Contact: Mandy Carter
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