Cost of cold weather
Ideal Standard Manufacturing (UK) Limited of Rugeley recently pleaded guilty to one charge of polluting the Bardy Lane Brook in Rugeley. The company were fined £8,000, ordered to pay £2,341.61 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge. The charge was brought by the Environment Agency under Section 85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.
On the 26 January 2010 the Environment Agency received a report of pollution in the Bardy Lane Brook and River Trent. On investigation it was observed that a large amount of sediment had caused the brook course to turn white. The pollution had then subsequently entered the River Trent.
After further investigation, the pollution was traced to the Ideal Standard Manufacturing (UK) Ltd permitted discharge point in the Bardy Lane Brook. Approximately 380 metres of the brook course and land adjacent to the brook were found to be contaminated by the pollution.
The company explained that liquids from their production processes are batch treated in their treatment plant. The liquids are pumped to treatment tanks to adjust the pH levels and then drained to settlement tanks to separate out the solids. The solids are then removed and disposed of and the remaining treated fluid from the discharge is released into the brook via the permitted discharge point.
Ideal Standard believed that cold weather had caused pumps and pipes to freeze at the effluent treatment plant, causing a series of failures. Usual routine inspections of the discharge did not take place because of these failures, resulting in approximately 2 to 3 tonnes of polluted material being released undetected. Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said:
“It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that they have a full understanding of their operations and the permit that their site has. They must have adequate control measures in place to prevent polluting material from impacting on the quality of the local environment. We take such matters seriously and will prosecute where circumstance justify.”
In mitigation, the solicitor said the company were very sorry that this oversight occurred. He went on to tell the court that the incident occurred as a result of the extremely cold weather, and the company had now made improvements to ensure this would not happen again.