Pollution convictions blight water company's public relations efforts

Severn Trent Water's investment in new sewage treatment technology is leading to a dramatic improvement in river water quality in the Midlands," the company claimed in a press release on 4 September. Within a fortnight it had been ordered to pay fines totalling £26,000 for 14 pollution offences.

The cases were all brought by the National Rivers Authority, and one resulted in an extra penalty after the water company was found to have breached the terms of a conditional discharge in respect of a previous pollution offence at the same sewage works.

The first case was brought on 16 September before Rugby magistrates, who had given Severn Trent Water a conditional discharge in June 1990 for an offence involving a breach of consent conditions by its Rugby sewage works.

A further breach of the consent limit for copper occurred in July 1990, and for this the company was fined £1,500, plus costs of £500. It was fined a further £1,000 for the earlier offence.

Another fine of £1,500, with £1,320 costs, followed on 18 September after the company was convicted of allowing sewage to enter a tributary of the Anker following a pump failure at its Shuttington pumping station.

The biggest penalty was imposed on 19 September, when Severn Trent Water was convicted on 11 charges involving breaches of consent limits for suspended solids, ammonia, colour and BOD by its Leek sewage works in Staffordshire. The fines were £2,000 on each charge, with £500 costs.

Severn Trent Water says that its investment programme will enable it to meet all its consents by the end of 1991.

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