WARRINGTON, ENGLAND, May 25, 2010 -- Major water company United Utilities has been fined £12,000 for allowing untreated sewage to enter into a river.
The company was also ordered to pay the Environment Agency’s (EA) costs of £2,895 GBP and pleaded guilt to three offences, including: causing sewage effluent to be discharged into Springfield Brook, Warrington; failing to maintain the stand by pump at a pumping station in the area and failing to repair a pumping station as soon as "reasonably practicable".
The news followed United Utilities announcing at the end of last week that it has met its annual leakage targets (see Water & Wastewater International story).
The EA said that on June 9 2009 it was called to investigate a serious pollution incident at Springfield Brook where it said the water had turned brown in colour and there was solid sewage in the water and a "strong smell of sewage".
An investigation found United Utilities had failed to respond to a series of alarms from their telemetry system from 6 June onwards and for that reason had only become aware of the pollution when the Environment Agency contacted the company.
According to the EA, the incident occurred because, of the three pumps at the pumping station two broke down and a third pump had been removed for repair.
Karen Henson, Environment Agency officer, said: “This incident had the potential to cause significant damage to the environment, which could have been avoided if the company had responded to the alarms promptly. United Utilities own and operate the sewer network throughout the region and are responsible for resolving any problems with this system. It is particularly disappointing, that the company failed to follow procedures introduced following a previous incident.“