Anglian Water fined �75,000
ANGLIAN Water has been fined �75,000 and ordered to pay costs of �10,459 for allowing sewage effluent from its Letchworth Sewage Treatment Works to pollute the Pix Brook killing at least 2,679 fish. Sanitary items were seen caught on rocks and vegetation
ANGLIAN Water has been fined �75,000 and ordered to pay costs of �10,459 for allowing sewage effluent from its Letchworth Sewage Treatment Works to pollute the Pix Brook killing at least 2,679 fish.
Sanitary items were seen caught on rocks and vegetation and there was a light brown sludge covering algae and other surfaces along the brook, Luton Crown Court heard on Friday.
Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting, said the incident had been categorised by the Environment Agency as the most serious as it had affected at least 4km of Pix Brook, which is a tributary of the River Ivel in Letchworth GC.
She said that although Anglian Water had discharge consent for the treatment works the discharge in May last year did not come under those conditions. It happened when storm tanks overflowed after sewage was diverted to them temporarily while a fault was being corrected on equipment which breaks down sewage, reducing ammonia levels.
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It was estimated that the works discharged between 512 and 990 tonnes of sewage into the brook.
Mrs McDonald said Anglian Water operatives did not follow an ammonia action plan which could have avoided the discharge and did not inform the Environment Agency until nine hours after the event and operatives should have stayed on site to monitor the works in accordance with the plan.
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Jeremy Hay, of the Environment Agency, said after the hearing: "The discharge of sewage from Letchworth Sewage Treatment Works was entirely avoidable which makes the loss of so many fish even more disappointing.
"Anglian Water has learnt from its mistakes and has made a number of significant improvements to the works. I would like to thank the members of the public who called out 24 hour incident line to notify us of the problem.
"Luckily because of the short duration of the discharges, the insect life in Pix Brook was not affected and fish have successfully re-colonised.
"Anglian Water has paid the price not only financially but also in terms of damage to its reputation."
Anglian Water had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Stevenage Magistrates' Court to causing trade or sewage effluent to be discharged in Pix Brook on or around May 8 last year.
Mr Mark Harris, representing Anglian Water, said it was not a case of systems not being in place but of those systems not being followed.
The company declined to comment on the size of the fine.