Costco has been fined ISK 20 million ($152,000 / €141,000) after 111,000 litres of diesel leaked into Hafnarfjörður’s sewage system. The Environment Agency of Iceland stated that it was fortunate that the consequences were not more severe, RÚV reports.
A threat to environmental and public health
The Environment Agency of Iceland has imposed a hefty fine of ISK 20 million ($152,000 / €141,000) on Costco for a diesel spill originating from the retail giant’s gas station in Garðabær. The spill saw 111,000 litres of diesel contaminating Hafnarfjörður’s wastewater system and eventually making its way into the ocean last December, RÚV reports.
Residents in the western region of Hafnarfjörður raised complaints about a pervasive smell resembling oil or tar cleaner. After an exhaustive investigation, evidence began to converge on the Costco gas station as the source of the leak.
In a public statement, the Environment Agency expressed its concern over Costco’s apparent lack of proactivity, oversight, and timely response to the incident. The agency further accused the company of “gross negligence,” marked by a notable level of indifference toward the spill, which led to a substantial volume of diesel leaking into the natural environment, much of which is irrecoverable.
Costco’s response and ongoing scrutiny
In response, Costco emphasised its full compliance during the investigative process. The company also challenged the notion that it was merely fortuitous that the spill did not result in more severe environmental degradation.
The Environment Agency countered by reiterating that the spill constituted a significant threat to both environmental integrity and public health, citing a lack of proper organisational protocols and attentiveness on the part of Costco.
While the Environment Agency acknowledged Costco’s subsequent cooperative stance, it pointed to past interactions as indicative of a less-than-transparent relationship. Reports from the health inspectorate suggest that in earlier stages of the investigation, the company was slow to respond and failed to provide necessary information in a timely manner.