The publicly owned company did not enter a plea, but was tried in absentia by Antrim magistrates for making a polluting discharge to a watercourse, contrary to article 7(1)(a) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
The case stemmed from an investigation carried out on 23 October 2008, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. It found a tributary of the Crumlin river to be heavily discoloured. The pollution was traced to an overflow at NIW’s Laurelvale sewage pumping station in Crumlin.
A sample revealed the discharge was untreated sewage containing noxious and polluting matter which would have been toxic to fish.
But the company intends to appeal the decision. In a written statement, it said the fine “does not reflect the nature of the incident” and that it had a low environmental impact.
The £15,000 fine almost equals the total the company paid out in 2009 for six pollution offences (ENDS Report 421, p 65).