Water firm fined for effluent offence

North West Water was fined £12,000 on 11 September after admitting polluting a trout stream with sodium hypochlorite. East Lancashire magistrates heard that the release, from the Ramsgreave water treatment works, near Blackburn, killed over 100 trout and bullheads in May 1999.

The company said the release resulted from a fault in a dosing system which added the chemical to water leaving the plant. Although an alarm had sounded, staff did not detect the leak until the following day. The Environment Agency described the release as foreseeable and preventable. It particularly criticised the siting of a surface water drain which allowed the spillage to enter the brook.

North West Water pleaded guilty to causing polluting matter to enter the stream, contrary to sections 85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. It was fined and ordered to pay costs of £2,188.

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