Anglian Water Fined £150,000

November 13, 2008 at 9:44 am

The largest regional water company in England and Wales has been fined for failing to prevent damage to the local environment. Anglian Water allowed twice the recommended amount of ammonia to seep into the Soham Lode from an unattended sewage plant in Newmarket.

The company has been charged with the death of 1,200 fish and fined £150,000 (£125 per fish). An additional £28,973 has been paid to the Environmental Agency to cover court costs.

The company website asserts that every effort is usually made to limit the impact of permanent installations on the environment: “we have a moral duty to protect and, where possible, enhance the local catchment area.” In the wake of the recent court battle, Anglian Water’s pledge to protect the wetland landscape and the fifty Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the area seems a tad hypocritical.

Anglian Water is no stranger to the judicial system. Its owners have appeared in court over eighty times during the last eighteen years. Earlier this year, the company was criticised for allowing a rabbit into a water tank. This mistake resulted in the worst cryptosporidiosis outbreak the world has ever seen.

Cryptosporidium, a parasite, causes gastro-intestinal illness in humans and is an exceptionally rare condition. Anglian Water is responsible for over 94% of all known cases of cryptosporidiosis.

The prosecution blasted the company for failing to adhere to fundamental safety regulations and for attempting to falsify records. Judge John Holt pointed out that Anglian Water had failed to respond to automated alarms warning of the impending ammonia leak. The Newmarket plant had no back-up pumps (they had been ‘inadvertently’ turned off), and tons of sewage were diverted into the Soham waterway.

Anglian Water has apologised for the incident.

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