Thames Water fined for polluting River Ash
Thames Water Utilities must pay £41,000 in fines and costs for polluting the River Ash and for breaching a condition of its environmental permit, killing an estimated 4,300 fish. The company pleaded guilty in May to two charges in relation to the pollution of the river between August 8 and 14, 2010.
Last Friday (June 14) Staines Magistrates’ Court fined Thames Water £17,500 and ordered it to pay costs of £23,500 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Thames Water was convicted after discharging polluting matter from its Ashford Common Water Treatment Works, which was not in accordance with its permit issued by the Environment Agency (EA). The company was also convicted on one other charge of breaching a permit condition as dissolved oxygen levels were less than the required 50% during the same period in August 2010.
Magistrates said the incident was foreseeable and that Thames Water’s contingency plan was inadequate for its planned engineering works when the pollution occurred. However, the company did confirm they had spent £190,000 on improving its treatment works and a further £90,000 on a study regarding the long-term suitability of the plant.
Environment officer Luke Tobitt said: “As the regulatory authority for Inland Freshwaters, the Environment Agency has a wide range of responsibilities under legislation to protect and improve the water environment. Clean water is an essential resource for commercial activities, recreation, fisheries and local wildlife.
“Although Thames Water has had previous convictions, this is the first time it has been successfully prosecuted in relation to a water treatment works and blue green algae. It was a complex and resource-intensive case and we are satisfied to have recovered a significant proportion of the costs incurred whilst conducting the investigation.
“The prosecution and fining of Thames Water sends a clear message to companies that if they fail in their environmental responsibilities they may be prosecuted.”
The River Ash flows from Staines through Ashford and joins the River Thames at Sunbury. The river is a fish spawning ground for the River Thames and provides an excellent habitat to support fish populations.
Treated water from the ACWTW goes firstly into a lagoon on site and then discharges via a discharge pipe at Nutty Lane.
On August 8, 2010, members of the public reported dead and dying fish on the River Ash to the EA. An environment officer witnessed the discharge in the form of a blue / grey effluent in to the River Ash. The total length of the river affected by this pollution was 2.7km.
Dead fish were observed on the river by one environment officer. A total of 207 fish were recovered from a 120m stretch. A minimum estimate by the Agency of total fish mortalities across the affected areas of the river was 4,300 of varying species.
When Thames Water was interviewed it stated it had no choice but to discharge from the lagoon on site through the discharge outfall to the river otherwise properties surrounding the lagoon would have been flooded. Thames Water later discharged effluent straight from the works, bypassing the lagoon.
- CSO pollution leads to £4K fine for NI Water Northern Ireland Water has been fined £4,000 by magistrates after a pump failure led to pollution in Dundrum Bay, County... Read More >
- Scottish Water fined for Purgatory Burn pollution Scottish Water has been fined £12,000 fine by Glasgow Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a series of uncontrolled... Read More >
- Improved surface water flood maps published The Environment Agency (EA) has published improved flood maps that show a reduction in the number of people classed at... Read More >
- Project Focus: Affinity Water in metaldehyde detection trial A trial at an Affinity Water treatment works in Hertfordshire has demonstrated the effectiveness of modifying lab... Read More >
- Research Notes: The wastewater headache after taking an aspirin Trace contaminants, including chemicals from pharmaceutical and household products that are part of our daily lives, are a... Read More >
- Innovation Zone: Metaldehyde - a Pest of a Problem Amongst the agricultural pesticides that find their way into raw water sources, metaldehyde - which is used in slug... Read More >
- Interview: John Devall, Water Director, Northumbrian Water "Customer perception should be your reality - it's the ultimate barometer." Read More >
- Digging Deeper: Blocking leaden dangers With the dangers of lead in water highlighted recently by the case of the US city of Flint in Michigan, pipe expert Nick... Read More >
- Market Operations delivery manager What are we looking for?• Innovative, challenging and dynamic leader and team player. • Experience of working in a utility network... Read more here.
- General Manager Asset Management Essential Energy Location: Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia Salary: Competitive Essential Energy is one of Australia’s largest... Read more here.
- Energy Growth Strategy Analyst National Grid’s energy network transports electricity to homes and businesses all over the UK. It’s an essential part of all our lives.... Read more here.