Anglian Water fined for �35,000 river pollution in Brentwood

ANGLIAN Water was fined �35,000 for discharging sewage into an Essex river during a power failure at its treatment works in Brentwood.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told hundreds of fish died as a result.

For over three hours raw sewage poured into the River Wid from the Doddinghurst plant near Brentwood during the night of September 13 and 14 2009, the court heard on Friday January 7.

It was classified as a category one acute pollution over a 2.3km stretch and killed hundreds of chub, dace, pike, gudgeon and roach. The Environment Agency also told the judge that thousands of minnows were killed or caused distress, as were invertebrates.

The court was told there had been eight previous mains power failures over that weekend and the standby generator had operated successfully at the Wyatts Green Road works. However, failed on the ninth occasion.

Eventually it was discovered the mains switch had tripped off. Once that was flicked back on the treatment plant began operating again.

Prosecutor Anne-Lise McDonald said the event had been “poorly managed”.

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Anglian Water Services Ltd pleaded guilty to discharging effluent and was fined �35,000 plus �7,234 costs.

Its managing director Peter Simpson and other senior managers were present in court.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC said there was a strict liability that the company was responsible whatever the actions of its employees.

The court was told the electrician sent to sort out the problem had since been disciplined.

The judge said it caused significant but not catastrophic environmental damage to the river.

Mitigating on behalf of the company, Sarah Le Fevre said had the mains power supply been investigated and switched back on or the reserve fuel in another tank been manually pumped the discharge would have been minimised or possibly not happened at all.

“The system is only as good as the people operating it. There were severe failings here and there have been disciplinary proceedings since.”

She added: “The system on site cannot be criticised.”