£45k fine for flower grower that poisoned fish

1st July 2011

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  • Management ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water



A major UK flower supplier has been ordered to pay a fine of £45,000 and costs of £5,600 after a cocktail of pesticides from one of its farms entered a stream and killed hundreds of fish.

Truro Magistrates Court heard that Pendarves Farm, near Camborne in Cornwall, failed to store pesticides and chemicals correctly resulting in the pollution of five miles of waterways in June 2010.

Nocton, a specialist producer of daffodil and narcissus flowers and bulbs and a major supplier of UK and European supermarkets, operates the farm and pleaded guilty to knowingly permitting an illegal discharge to a controlled water, an offence under the Environmental Protection Regulations.

Environment Agency inspectors, visiting the farm after reports of dead fish in a nearby stream, found that pesticides had been stored outside without protection from the elements. Over time this had resulted in a significant amount of powder spilling into the farmyard and collecting in an open ditch.

A heavy rainstorm on 7 June 2010 washed the toxic cocktail of 13 chemicals out into local watercourses, polluting three streams and killing brown trout and eels.

Water samples taken by Environment Agency (EA) inspectors found that one chemical, the insecticide Chlorpyrifos, was present in the streams at a concentration of over 13 times the maximum permitted.

Chlorpyrifos is classified under the EU Water Framework Directive as a priority substance. It is potentially harmful to human health and the environment and must not be allowed to pollute surface waters.

The EA confirmed the pollution at the farm had been caused by poor practices and had been avoidable.

“Pesticides can be highly toxic even at low concentrations and have a potentially devastating impact on the aquatic environment,” warned Chris Barnes from the EA.


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