Northumbrian Water fined following pollution offences
North-east water supplier Northumbrian Water has been ordered to pay nearly £34,000 in costs and fines following three separate pollution offences.
The sentencing took place after discharge of untreated sewage occurred in Smithy Burn, Broomley, on 19 August 2016.
The discharge came from a storm overflow channel, which allows rainwater and sewage effluent to bypass sewage treatment works during heavy rainfall. This helps avoid the works’ capacity being exceeded.
Regulations stipulate that, in order for such overflows to be lawful, they must be incorporated into the works’ environmental permit. This was not the case at Smithy Burn, where the permit stated that the discharges at the location should consist of treated sewage effluent.
Two similar offences took place in June 2015, at Summerhouse and Killerby Sewage Treatment Works near Darlington. These offences, given their nature, were taken into consideration when sentencing was handed down.
Chris Bunting, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, told of how investigations into the offences had found a build-up of silt, which had prevented the flow from reaching the works. This then led to the flow being diverted into the storm overflow.
Malcolm Galloway, representing Northumbrian Water, claimed that staff had failed to carry out the inspection procedures set out by the company, and that the works at Broomley had an otherwise good compliance record.
During sentencing, District Judge Roger Elsey ruled that the culpability was low, but the amount of offences meant the fine had to be increased.
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