Frank Bird (Poultry) Ltd pleaded guilty to depositing waste on land without a waste management licence, contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, on 19 September before Eden magistrates in Penrith.
The company also admitted a further charge of causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters, contrary to section 85(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The firm was fined £6,000 on the first charge and £4,000 on the second, with £1,570 in costs.
The incident occurred in March, when the Agency was alerted to a foul-smelling, foamy discharge polluting the river Eden. Agency officer Sharon Brazier traced the liquid back to an irrigation system that was landspreading effluent from the firm's site at Langwathby. The field was heavily waterlogged and the effluent was running down a slope and into the river.
Samples showed that the river contained high levels of biological and chemical oxygen demand and a survey found that crustaceans had been wiped out downstream of the discharge.
Landspreading waste for agricultural benefit may be permitted under a waste management licence but the company did not have one. The Agency also found that in the week up to the 10 March, the company had deposited five times the allowable limit of waste on the fields, spreading the equivalent of 1,255 tonnes per hectare a year.
In April, the site came under direct regulation by the Agency through the IPPC regime. The site processes over 52,000 tonnes of poultry each year, generating large quantities of animal waste, blood and feathers.
Speaking after the case, Ms Brazier said that IPPC has enabled the Agency to require the company to improve its environmental management.
Ms Brazier said it was not the first time the Agency has taken enforcement action against the company. In June 2004, it was prosecuted for overabstracting water from a borehole on the Langwathby site. The Agency has also formally warned the company after a water pollution incident at another site.