Express Dairies creamed for brook pollution

Dairy firm Express Ltd has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay some £10,949 costs for turning 100 metres of a river white with spilt cream.

On 29 January, the company pleaded not guilty before Redditch magistrates of causing cream to enter Hewell Brook, Redditch contrary to sections 85(1), 85(6) and 217(3) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The incident happened on 21 January 2002. An Agency officer responded to a call from the Express Dairies depot in Redditch. On arrival he discovered that cream had been spilled over the depot yard and that some had entered a surface water drain. On inspecting Hewell Brook the officer discovered that approximately 100 metres of river had turned white and that there was "significant but localised contamination". The Agency worked with Severn Trent Water and the local authority to prevent cream entering the downstream Forage Mill Pools by closing a sluice gate. Agency investigation revealed that an undisclosed "private dairy company" had been transferring a large container of whipping cream onto a vehicle at the depot. The load was dropped, with cream spilling into the yard's drain. According to the Agency, Express Dairies had failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the pollution and had inadequate emergency procedures for spillages of cream, which has approximately seven times the organic strength of raw sewage.

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