SWW fined for water pollution
PUBLISHED: 02:01 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:58 10 June 2010
THE contamination of Exmouth water has seen South West Water fined and forced to take safety measures at a Littleham sewage works. The company was fined £6,600 and ordered to pay court costs totalling £2,150 after potentially harmful sulphate leaked into
THE contamination of Exmouth water has seen South West Water fined and forced to take safety measures at a Littleham sewage works.The company was fined £6,600 and ordered to pay court costs totalling £2,150 after potentially harmful sulphate leaked into Littleham Brook on December 28, 2006.Ordering the fine, Cullompton magistrates called the offence a "serious matter". The danger had been spotted by an alert resident who noticed the brook was discoloured at the point it flowed into the estuary.An Environment Agency investigation traced sulphate back to sewage treatment works at Maer Lane.There, South West Water staff had drained sulphate contained on site, allowing discharge to flow into a pipe, under adjacent farmland and into the brook, the court heard.The company, which pleaded guilty to permitting poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, namely aluminium sulphate, to enter the brook, took immediate action to halt the flow of sulphate after the agency's investigation.A spokesperson for South West Water said an independent survey at the time had found no observable damage to the ecology or wildlife in the river.The spokesperson said: "South West Water has always accepted responsibility. We are confident that our site operators followed all the necessary emergency procedures, but unfortunately a small amount of heavily diluted chemical escaped the closed drainage system and entered the watercourse"A large investment has since been made at the sewage treatment works to ensure this does not happen again."The aluminium sulphate had been bunded at the Maer Lane site, where it is used as an aid to concentrating waste sludge. Sulphate escaped while staff drained the containment bund with a portable pump.Environment agency officer Richard Tugwell said: "Given the nature of this chemical and its potential impact on the wider environment, it is essential it is handled, stored and disposed of correctly at all times.