Chinese food firm hit with record £415,000 trade effluent fine

A major Chinese food supplier has been fined more than £400,000 for allowing oily waste to enter a sewer for almost a year.

Hypergood Ltd, which trades at Royal Gourmet and supplies restaurants across the capital with dumplings, buns, desserts and other specialities, pleaded guilty to 20 breaches of paragraph 121(5) of the Water Industry Act 1991 before Willesden Magistrates’ Court in London two weeks ago. The court fined the firm £415,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £9,428 and a victim surcharge of £1,170, following a prosecution conducted by Thames Water. According to ENDS Report’s Fines Monitor, the penalty is the largest ever imposed for such an offence.

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The firm had found that trade effluent from the company’s factory, in an industrial estate in Ealing, was not just being discharged into the foul sewer but also surface waters. The river Brent and the Grand Union Canal flow a few hundred metres away.

Although no environmental damage was evident, the fine’s severity reflected the potential impact.

The firm holds a trade effluent consent from the water company, which specifies what may be discharged. “Despite numerous warnings and attempts to resolve the issue” it continued to breach these conditions, Thames Water said in a statement.

Its trade effluent manager Tony McHattie said the fine “reflects the seriousness of the breaches of consent and illegal discharges. It is vital all our customers are being compliant with consent conditions and while we will always work with them where possible, Thames Water will not hesitate to take legal action if necessary”.

Its trade effluent technologist Alexis Alexandrou added: “Companies are responsible for knowing what is being discharged from their site and where this enters the public sewer system. It’s very important they check and ensure they take appropriate measures to keep to their consent conditions.”

The offences occurred over 11 months from October 2017. The nature of the waste could have created a fatberg, Thames Water said.