TWO contractors have been ordered to pay more than £180,000 after polluting groundwater with diesel during the redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital.

Building giant Kier Construction, and its sub-contractor BKP Waste Recycling Limited, were sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court after admitting polluting the groundwater with more than 11,000 litres of diesel.

Kier Group, based in Bedfordshire, which secured a record £3 billion in contracts in 2017, was fined £100,000 with £30,301 costs.

Meanwhile, BKP was fined £10,200 with £42,851 costs.

The case, which relates to an incident in 2014, was brought by the Environment Agency, whose officers carried out a lengthy investigation.

Ian Withers, of the Environment Agency, said: “This pollution incident had the potential to cause serious harm to the environment and was entirely avoidable.

“The two companies failed to understand the extent of the work required and mitigate the risks.

“Construction companies must adhere to environmental permitting regulations to prevent their activities from affecting the local environment.”

Kier Construction was commissioned by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to carry out redevelopment work at Christchurch Hospital in February 2012. Kier appointed BKP Waste Recycling Limited to drain and remove oil from an oil supply line in the hospital grounds.

However, oil escaped from what the Environment Agency described as a “poorly-made connection in the oil supply pipework,” more than two years later.

This connection failed during routine testing of heating systems, the court heard, at the hospital in November 2014. The diesel spillage then polluted groundwater.

Both companies pleaded guilty to an offence under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. They were sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, January, 12.

A spokesman for Kier said: “We confirm that Kier has been fined at Bournemouth Crown Court in relation to an incident that occurred during 2014.

“Kier is fully committed to achieving high standards of environmental protection and regrets that on this occasion those high standards were not met. We continue to work collaboratively with our supply chain to strive for improvement in environmental standards and develop new ways of working.” BKP Waste & Recycling declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency spokesman said: “If you are concerned about pollution to water or land, contact our 24-hour incident line on 0800 807 060.”

Christchurch Hospital was officially reopened last summer following a £15 million project to transform the site into the county’s first health hub.