£8k fine for firm that underestimated cold weather

5th September 2011


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  • Management ,
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  • Environment agencies

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IEMA

A manufacturer in Staffordshire has been ordered to pay £8,000 after frozen pipes resulted in tonnes of polluted material escaping into local waterways.

Ideal Standard Manufacturing, which makes bathroom fixtures at its facilities in Rugeley, pleaded guilty to polluting the Bardy Lane Brook in January 2010 when cold weather caused problems at its effluent treatment plant.

During the Environment Agency investigation, the firm’s regional operations manager, Simon Nevitt, explained that the unusually low temperatures had caused pumps and pipes at the plant to freeze, resulting in a series of problems that stopped routine inspections of discharge from the plant from taking place.

The series of failures allowed two to three tonnes of polluted material to be released undetected into the brook, later reaching the River Trent.

Speaking after the case, the Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation warned: “It is the company's responsibility to ensure that they have a full understanding of their operations and the permit their site has.

“They must have adequate control measures in place to prevent polluting material from impacting on the quality of the local environment.”

The company’s solicitor told the court that Ideal Standard Manufacturing was very sorry for the incident and explained that it had made improvements to ensure that a similar problem would not occur in future.

The court ordered the firm to pay more than £2,300 in costs on top of the £8,000 fine for breaching section 85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

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