South West Water incurs £300k fine for Devon watercourse pollution
South West Water (SWW) has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £14,421 in costs by Plymouth Crown Court after polluting a Devon watercourse.
In a case brought by the Environment Agency (EA), Plymouth Crown Court heard how a combination of equipment failure and poor management on the part of SWW led to poorly treated sewage entering the Craddock stream, downstream from its Ashill Sewage Treatment Works (STW), near Cullompton. The EA found pollution in the stream in September 2013 and again in December 2013 which affected a 400m stretch of water and impacted on river life.
These issues resulted in a breach of the permit conditions requiring SWW to ensure that the treatment works operate correctly and to notify the EA of any problems that might affect sewage quality. The permit conditions also require that treated sewage must be of a standard that does not cause adverse pollution or environmental harm.
A biological survey of the stream showed that the sewage had been poorly treated for at least a month, and further investigation revealed SWW knew of the poor stream condition. Ongoing problems were observed during a later visit in December 2013, when the quality of the sewage remained poor.
The offences observed on both dates were attributed to negligence on the part of SWW. Judge Lawrie said the pollution of the stream was present for a sufficient length of time for sewage fungus to grow and was not a passing release of effluent.
The fact that the stream was of poor quality and that others may have contributed to that poor quality did not excuse the operator from its primary responsibility to ensure the risk of pollution from the works was kept to a realistic minimum.
He added that SWW had failed to keep an effective watch on the maintenance and operation of this site since September 2013 and should have made more effort to ensure the site ran properly and that its maintenance programme at the site was sufficient.
The court heard that the site was to be the subject of significant investment to upgrade the works, including an additional septic tank, a new humus tank and a dry weather flow gross storm overflow.
- EA restocks Crane River after pollution incidents The River Crane in Middlesex has been restocked with thousands of fish as it continues its recovery from two serious... Read More >
- EA consults on water resource management plan guidelines The Environment Agency (EA) has gone out to consultation on new technical guidelines for water companies to follow when... Read More >
- Thames Tideway Tunnel MEICA work up for grabs Thames Water is now seeking tenders for mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, controls and automation (MEICA) work on... Read More >
- Opinion: Phosphorus just one of the problem pollutants Phosphorus may be front of mind for wastewater treatment in the UK at the moment, but this emphasis should not mean that... Read More >
- DAF and municipal wastewater: a versatile option There is growing awareness of how Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) can be successfully used throughout the process stream at... Read More >
- Expert View: Phosphorus removal made simple With the water industry seeking efficient ways to remove phosphorus (P), the C-TECH biological process is one solution... Read More >
- Treating the Blues: Low-cost, sustainable nitrate treatment Advances in biotechnology now mean that low-cost, sustainable nitrate treatment for drinking water and wastewater is... Read More >
- MBBRs: Putting wastewater to bed Moving Bed Bioreactors (MBBRs) are the filtration method of choice for many operators looking to remove BOD, ammonia and... Read More >