United Utilities fined for sewage spill in to Lake District beck
Last updated at 10:56, Saturday, 26 November 2011
Cumbria's water supplier has been fined £27,000 after crude sewage overflowed into a beck near Keswick.
United Utilities was hit with the punishment after what a court heard was a “significant” amount of waste got into a field and ditch.
Its bosses apologised for the spill, caused by a failure at its Portinscale pumping station into Pow Beck.
The Environment Agency led the prosecution – a case it described as “disappointing”.
Environment manager Jeremy Westgarth said: “This incident had the potential to have a major impact on the environment.
“We have worked with United Utilities and other partners to drive improvements in water quality in our rivers and lakes.
“It is disappointing that avoidable incidents, such as this, continue to happen.”
During a hearing before magistrates in Workington on Thursday, United Utilities pleaded guilty to two charges of unauthorised discharge from Portinscale sewage pumping station between December 26 2010 and January 8 this year.
The court heard that the Environment Agency were tipped off on January 8 that raw sewage was overflowing from the station.
They discovered that the site’s storm tower was overflowing and that the its compound was covered in crude sewage.
A significant amount had also got into a field and ditch along the site’s boundary, which drains to Pow Beck.
It was found that pumps intended to take sewage to Keswick’s waste water treatment works were not working. United Utilities switched them on manually and the overflow stopped. Its staff then cleaned the area.
An Environment Agency investigation later found there had been two separate discharges from Portinscale.
Two telemetry alarms on United Utilities’ system – on December 26 and 28 – had been reviewed, but not passed to an operations team to be looked into. A site visit on December 30 did not identify a problem.
In mitigation, United Utilities asked the court to take into account the fact that the charges had happened as the result of a single cause. Extreme weather conditions at the time had affected operational sites.
United Utilities say there was no evidence of environmental damage as a result of the spill.
United Utilities must also pay costs of £1,702 and a £15 victim surcharge.
First published at 08:59, Saturday, 26 November 2011
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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