Trago Mills fined £10k for sewage offences

14th March 2012


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  • Corporate fine ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Water

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IEMA

Well-known west country retailer Trago Mills has been fined £10,000 for polluting waterways near its Cornish outlet, less than six months after being prosecuted for illegally dumping and burning waste at the site

Charles Robertson (Developments), the owner of Trago Mills, pleaded guilty to breaching its environmental permit by allowing poisonous, poor-quality effluent to be released from sewage treatment works at the group’s Liskeard out-of-town complex.

The firm is allowed to discharge treated sewage into a nearby waterway, however, during a routine inspection of the works in July 2011, an Environment Agency (EA) inspector found sewage sludge near to the discharge point and samples revealed levels of pollution 14 times higher than the site’s permit allowed.

Workers at the Trago Mills site halted the discharge of sewage immediately, in accordance with the officer’s request, but a further sample taken at the end of August revealed pollution remained, with high levels of ammonia still present.

The company blamed the poor quality of the discharge on the hot weather, which its representative said had caused a “sludge blanket” in the works, and a split pipe for agitating the sewage.

Bodmin Magistrates’ Court were told that Charles Robertson (Developments) was taking steps to improve the treatment process at the site, but it was also asked to take account of a further breach in January in sentencing the firm.

Responding to the case, EA officer Phil Christie said: “It is important sewage treatment works are regularly maintained and monitored to ensure they comply with their permit conditions. The Trago Mills sewage treatment works discharges into a tributary that flows for only a short distance before it converges with the River Fowey, a valuable salmon and sea trout river.”
In September 2011, Trago Mills was fined more than £185,000 by Torquay Magistrates’ Court after the EA found it had dumped more than 6,000 tonnes of waste, including asbestos, paints and chemicals, and illegally burned waste at its Liskeard and Newton Abbot sites.

The fine was later reduced to £65,000 by Exeter Crown Court to take into consideration the £475,000 the retailer had spent on cleaning up the sites.

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