Care home fined over sewage discharge

A Cambridgeshire care home has been fined £5,000 after polluting a river with sewage over an eight-month period.

Appearing before Wisbech magistrates on 5 May, Askham Care Homes pleaded guilty to five breaches of the discharge consent at its care home in Doddington, contrary to section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. It was ordered to pay £1,113 costs on top of the £5,000 fine.

In April 2003, a routine Environment Agency inspection of the sewage treatment plant attached to the care home found that it was not working properly and polluting the Ransonmoor drain. A 20-metre stretch of the drain was found to be grey, black and septic because of the sewage.

A sample taken from the drain showed that Askham had breached its consent for biochemical oxygen demand by over four times.

Four subsequent visits to the care home - between July 2003 and January 2004 - revealed that the pollution had not been dealt with.

The failure stemmed from a significant expansion of the care home that left the treatment plant unable to cope with the volume of effluent passed through it, according to the Agency. The plant is now desludged every two months to prevent a recurrence.

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