Record fine for BR subsidiary

A quarrying company owned by British Rail received a £13,000 fine for a river pollution offence in November, the largest yet awarded in the National River Authority's South West region. The court rejected defence submissions that a massive release from the firm's premises did not cause a deterioration in water quality and the deaths of fish and invertebrates.

The incident occurred in February, when some 100,000 gallons of sediment-laden water was released from a lagoon at Meldon Quarry's site near Okehampton. The discharge turned the West Okement river a dark chocolate-brown colour, coated the river bed with sediment for several miles, and killed much of the river's animal life.

At a hearing before Okehampton magistrates, the company pleaded not guilty to charges brought under sections 107(1)(

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