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Sonde monitor helps EA convict river pollution culprit

Pouring waste into sewers rather than taking it to an approved site for disposal has cost luxury coach firm Symphony Chauffeurs and its sole director more than £21,000 in fines.

The company, based near Heathrow Airport, broke environmental law when staff emptied toilets from the coaches into public drains and contaminated the River Crane.

Officers from the Environment Agency (EA) turned detective in 2015, tracing pollution in the River Crane to where Symphony operated, a trading estate in Hounslow minutes from the airport. A sonde monitoring device found the river had been polluted, and other sondes identified Symphony as the source, which officers confirmed through a network of drains.

The watercourse was further polluted when chemicals and dirty water entered the drains after staff washed vehicles on Symphony’s premises. The firm had been warned by the EA and the company’s landlords doing so was against the lease. Symphony would have stayed within the law by disposing of the chemicals at an approved site, or by cleaning cars and coaches at an authorised location.

Symphony Chauffeurs was fined £18,000 by Ealing Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £12,113.62 in costs, and a victim surcharge of £170. The company was charged with allowing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into the River Crane, between May 2015 and February 2016, and failing to provide the EA with documents relating to its activities.

The company’s sole director, Allen Jeyakumar, of Greenford, was fined £3,134 by the court for allowing Symphony to commit the offences. Jeyakumar also had to pay a victim surcharge of £142.

Mathew Reed, who led the EA investigation, said: “Incidents like this have the potential to have a serious and long-term impact on the health of the river. Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd was given repeated warnings about its activities. People might think we will find it too difficult to trace the cause of pollution, but this case proves that some detective work leads to a conviction.

“Identifying pollution through a complex network of drains can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done. We have the skills and technology to do it.”

Both Symphony Chauffeurs and Allen Jeyakumar pleaded guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing.

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