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Anglian Water takes an EU for sewage pollution

The Environment Agency (EA) has announced that an enforcement undertaking (EU) has been agreed with Anglian Water after the utility polluted Houghton Brook, Cambridgeshire with sewage.

Around 150 fish died when sewage from Ilex Road Pumping Station in St Ives was pumped into the water system for ten hours via the emergency overflow. The overflow was mainly caused by excessive levels of un-flushable material/rag blocking the pump, which was a known issue at the works.

Contributing factors included a second pump being out of service during the incident and the failure of an alarm.

At the time of the pollution, Anglian Water tankered the watercourse to prevent pollution travelling further downstream and two days later the stream was running clear.

Anglian Water has since replaced equipment at the pumping station including a pump that can better cope with high levels of rag.

The EA accepted the offer by the water company to put right any damage caused by the pollution and to donate to an environmental charity.

As part of the EU, Anglian Water has donated £100,000 to the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire to benefit the local environment and also paid the EA’s costs.

Jeremy Hay, EA officer, said: “Enforcement undertakings allow those who commit offences to restore the environment and to take steps to prevent a recurrence. When appropriate, they allow a quicker resolution than a prosecution and help offenders who are prepared to take responsibility for their actions to put things right voluntarily working with their local communities.”

Formal sample results taken after the incident in September 2014 showed that sewage had polluted approximately 635m of the stream.

The EU was offered in relation to an offence of pollution under section 4 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. It was accepted in March 2017 and the undertaking was completed on May 30, 2017.

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