Essex: Anglian Water to pay £42,000 after admitting river pollution (From Maldon and Burnham Standard)
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Essex: Anglian Water to pay £42,000 after admitting river pollution
4:23pm Tuesday 16th October 2012 in News
A water company will have to pay £42,000 after it admitted polluting a river and killing more than 400 fish.
Anglian Water Services pleading guilty to causing the pollution, which came from a sewer overflow in Thaxted, in June last year.
The company was fined £36,000 and ordered to pay £5,973 in costs at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today.
Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the Environment Agency (EA), told the court the overflow ran into a stream which feeds into the River Chelmer and could have been avoided.
She said: “Anglian Water admitted that before the incident this stretch of sewer was not included on the schedule of planned preventative maintenance.”
After a member of the public reported pollution and dead fish, EA staff investigated and found sewage solids and rags discharging into the stream from an outlet in Park Street, Thaxted.
The court heard there was a blockage in the foul sewer at the junction of Copthall Lane, Weaverhead Lane and Tanyard.
Anglian Water cleared the blockage, but told the EA a blockage in the same stretch of sewer had been cleared only a week before.
A manager from the water company told investigating officers the blockage had been caused by a third party blockage of debris comprising a metal handle, part of a bicycle brake, an old cover, various bits of lateral and private sewers.
Mrs Corfield told the court that a total of 421 fish had been killed including lamprey, bullhead, minnow, stickleback and stone loach.
Lamprey numbers are declining across the UK and bullheads are highly protected because of their environmental vulnerability - 50 were found dead.
After the hearing, EA officer Silvia Moros Perez said: “This site was poorly managed and this pollution and these fish deaths could have been avoided if appropriate preventative measures had been in place for this section of sewer.”
An Anglian Water spokesman said: “We deeply regret this accidental discharge of sewage and the impact to the River Chelmer and its wildlife.
“The incident occurred when a sewer became blocked with debris wrongly placed in our network.
“We would urge people to think carefully about what they are putting down plugholes, toilets and drains as the consequences of blocked sewers can be very serious.
“Since this incident we have put in extra safeguards. We pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and cooperated fully with EA during the clean up and subsequent investigation.”