South West Water fined £214K for Plymouth pollution
South West Water has been fined £214,000 by Plymouth Crown Court for breaching environmental controls at the Camels Head sewage treatment works in Plymouth and failing to stop sewage pouring into the River Tamar.
This is the highest fine handed out to South West Water for a case brought by the Environment Agency.
The treatment plant at Camels Head serves a population of over 40,000 people and discharges into the sensitive Tamar Estuary near the Devonport Naval Dockyard.
The court heard that between March and September 2013, South West Water failed to operate and maintain the works in accordance with good operational practice and to treat effluent so as to minimise the risk of pollution.
It also heard that on 12 June 2013, a statutory sample taken breached the limits for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations.
The court took into consideration three further permit breaches in 2015 and previous convictions in 2012 and 2013 relating to this site.
South West Water admitted breaching the permit conditions.
Judge Lawrie told the court that South West Water were clearly “tiptoeing through a minefield of operational problems at this site and a pollution event beyond failure of minimum discharge standards was not only a risk but likely”. He added: “there was a complete failure to anticipate and take measures to counter some of the problems.”
The judge said that
It is clear that the polluted material coming from the site was easily in excess of the minimum standards for discharge, and the fact that this happened on a number of occasions over an extended period of time should have prompted greater efforts by South West Water to reduce that significant risk.
The judge concluded there seemed to be a “lack of urgency in addressing the assorted problems”.
South West Water was fined £214,000 with costs of £27,750.
Mike Ingman, for the Environment Agency, said: “Compliance at South West Water sewage works is generally good. But in this case South West Water failed to operate the site in a way that minimised the risk to the environment. As a result, the site breached its permit on a number of occasions and risked serious pollution of the River Tamar.
“It is encouraging that South West Water has now set about extensive improvements on the site which are due to be completed next summer. These will help secure compliance for the future.”
- SWW issues warning after companies prosecuted over standpipe use South West Water has urged businesses not to steal water from its public supply network following the successful... Read More >
- NRW hails mine water treatment breakthrough Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has announced that it has achieved impressive results in two innovative trials which use... Read More >
- Loughlin to take on group chief executive role at Pennon Christopher Loughlin, chief executive at South West Water (SWW), will take on the newly created role of group chief... Read More >
- Meeting AMP7 leakage targets Damian Crawford, head of smart networks & leakage at Stantec, discusses how becoming data-rich and knowledge-smart can... Read More >
- Rewarding excellence WWT content director Alec Peachey looks ahead to next year's Water Industry Awards. Read More >
- Delivering a smart network Tom Mills, senior director UK&I at Sensus, examines what a smart water network really means - and how to get there. Read More >
- A watershed moment for the water industry? Tessa Harding, director of water at Thomson Environmental Consultants, discusses the government's Environment Bill. Read More >
- AMP7: putting the customer centre stage 2020 marks the beginnings of a new chapter for clients and contractors in the water industry with the start of AMP7, the... Read More >