Mayer Parry (East Anglia) had applied for a licence from the local waste regulation authority for its scrap processing yard at Snailwell, near Newmarket. The authority required an inspection of the site drainage, which was carried out in conjunction with an NRA officer.
The inspection, in November last year, uncovered an over-flowing settlement tank serving a metal separator. The system was designed to separate metal from a fragmentiser by floatation in water, and the tank was part of the plant's water recirculation system.
The NRA officer noticed that a pipe in the side of the tank was discharging a grey effluent into a tributary of the river Snail, causing visible pollution. The company was warned to take remedial action, but a few days later the NRA made a second visit and discovered that nothing had been done.
An analysis of the effluent showed it to contain high levels of BOD, COD, suspended solids and the "grey list" metals copper and lead. The NRA brought a charge of causing or knowingly permitting pollution of controlled waters under section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991.
Mayer Parry pleaded guilty to the offence and, despite agreeing to a plan to overhaul the site's drainage, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £600 by Newmarket magistrates.