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Welsh Water fined £40k in NRW prosecution after 500 fish killed

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) has been fined £40,000 at Swansea Magistrates Court after a chemical discharge killed more than 500 fish.

The incident took place at the company’s Felindre water treatment works, just outside Swansea, in July 2018. 

Felindre is one of the largest water treatment works in Wales, producing water for up to 400,000 customers in Swansea, Bridgend and Cardiff.

The pollution happened when lime slurry that was being transferred spilled into a surface water drain that led to the River Lliw.

An inspection of the river by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) officers found dead fish including trout, lamprey and bullheads, and invertebrates including 200 freshwater shrimps, mayflies and caddis flies.

In total, three quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometres) of the river was affected.

Fish populations in the river are expected to take three to four years to recover.

Welsh Water admitted causing the pollution at a previous hearing in Swansea Magistrates Court.

Chris Palmer, senior water framework directive officer for NRW, said: “Our rivers are important for our wildlife, our economy and our health and wellbeing and we are committed to preventing pollution incidents whatever their source.

“Despite efforts by DCWW to contain the spill, a significant amount of pollution entered the river and had a devastating impact on fish and other wildlife. It will take years to recover.

“We will continue to work with the company to reduce the risk of this happening again, and to improve its environmental performance to lower the number of pollution incidents in the future.”

The company was also ordered to pay costs of £8,980.99 and a victim surcharge of £170.

A Welsh Water spokesperson said: “As a company which takes its commitment to protecting the natural environment very seriously, we are of course extremely sorry for this event and its impact.

“We already have stringent processes in place to ensure that we operate all of our treatment works safely and we are of course disappointed that this did not happen on this occasion. As soon as we became aware, we notified Natural Resources Wales and we also carried out a full clean-up of the stretch of the Afon Lliw which was affected.

“We fully investigated the cause and while it involved human error – the event happened while we were coping with increased customer demand for water during record hot temperatures – we identified that there were lessons to be learned. 

“Again, we would like to apologise for the incident and its impact and would like to assure people that measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of the same thing happening in future.”

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: Dwr Cymru Welsh Water , fines , pollution , Natural Resources Wales

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