£933,000 in fines after water site blunder kills fish

Grant Prior 8 years ago

United Utilities Water Limited (UU) has been fined £600,000 and its contractor, KMI+ £333,000 after pleading guilty to polluting a brook.

Bolton Crown Court also ordered both companies to pay a total of £45,262 in costs following a prosecution by the Environment Agency.

The court heard how KMI+ was contracted by UU to carry out improvement works at Wayoh water treatment works at Turton Bottoms.

In December 2013, as part of the works, KMI + emptied and removed a tank which had been used to store sodium hypochlorite in 10% solution.

Sodium hypochlorite is used in the water purification process and is also the principle ingredient of household bleach. It is very corrosive and is highly toxic to aquatic organisms.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Timothy Clayson, heard that by 4 December 2013 the majority of the contents of the tank had been removed but up to 300 litres of the highly toxic chemical was left in the bottom and needed to be emptied.

Counsel Richard Bradley, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, told the Court that instead of pumping or siphoning the remaining liquid out, a decision was taken to put a hosepipe into the tank and dilute the sodium hypochlorite with water, letting it overflow into a bunded area and leave the hosepipe running unattended overnight for 15 hours.

This was carried out without any risk assessment or method statement.

Neither company had surveyed the drainage adequately and did not realise there were faults in the drainage system which meant the diluted toxic chemical entered the surface water drainage system and discharged to Bradshaw Brook, a trout spawning ground.

On December 6 2013, the Environment Agency was alerted by a member of the public who had found dead fish floating in the water.

A 1.7km stretch of the brook leading towards Jumbles Reservoir was so badly polluted that virtually all aquatic organisms, including fish, shrimp and earthworms were killed.

Up to 900 dead fish were recovered, including Brown Trout, Loaches and Bullheads, but the number killed is likely to be much greater.

At the end of June 2014 the brook had recovered sufficiently for restocking to take place and UU paid for the brook to be restocked with native fish from the downstream section.

Both UU and KMI+ pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and cooperated with the prosecution.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Timothy Clayson said the incident had arisen through senior management failings to ensure proper system and procedures were in place.

Gordon Whitaker, Environment Manager of the Environment Agency, said: “This was a serious and avoidable pollution incident caused by the negligence of both parties.

“It took several months for Bradshaw Brook to return to a healthy state and even then it was necessary to assist this process by restocking fish in the affected stretch.

“This case should bring home the message to all company directors and shareholders that environmental offences are taken seriously both by the regulators and the courts.”

Latest news

Early bond release key to averting industry surety crisis

Contractors must put pressure on clients to release bonds promptly
1 day ago

Over 1000 building safety cladding retrofits completed

25% of safety retrofits finished seven years after Grenfell disaster
1 day ago

Steel import delays make Rangers miss kick-off

Construction work at Ibrox will not be finished by start of next season
2 days ago

Lidl looking for new contractors for store building plans

Sign up for events in Newcastle, Glasgow, Birmingham and Southampton
1 day ago

Utility firm GTC revs up for ground source heat pump era

Contractor and heat pump maker strikes ground-breaking deal
1 day ago

Amey switches kit supplier to Speedy from HSS

New plant and equipment hire deal worth £25m a year
2 days ago

Clients under spotlight after bond bombshell

Contractors call for action to avoid project delays
3 days ago

M&E specialist Lorne Stewart falls into the red

Parent group suffers £2.8m loss in face of cost inflation and insolvencies
2 days ago

Four men rushed to hospital after site accident

Eye-witnesses report a wall was knocked over on Edinburgh site
3 days ago

World’s tallest scissor lift set for UK sites

Hire Safe Solutions partners with Dingli to supply lift with working height of 37 metres
2 days ago

Barhale wins £36m East London sewer remediation

Northern Outfall Sewer in West Ham runs above railway lines in the city
2 days ago

Weston Homes thumbs-up for £220m Essex homes scheme

Colchester 600-home Viridis scheme gains outline consent
2 days ago

Balfour seals £192m deal for trio of Scottish substations

Work to start this summer to enhance electrical transmission in Argyll
3 days ago

Construction bond bombshell as major player quits market

QBE currently provides cover for 20 of the industry's 30 biggest contractors
4 days ago

United Utilities names another 18 winners for £2.7bn water spend

Water giant cuts out large management contractors in latest spending round
4 days ago

Green light for £130m Dundee Eden project

Former gasholder site to be transformed into green house
3 days ago

Four tower scheme in Glasgow gets green light

Go-ahead for major mixed-use scheme at Central Quay
3 days ago

‘Green collar’ construction workers earning £134,000

Cost consultant T&T says insulation and heat pump trades earning £70 an hour in London
3 days ago

£65m Trafford Waters resi blocks approved

X1 Developments plans over 200 homes in 13- and 8-storey blocks
3 days ago

Over 100 firms win £1.5bn ICN housing framework

Great Places Housing Group names key partners for new homes programme
4 days ago

Steelwork firm went down owing £4.5m to suppliers

Subcontractors left holding unpaid invoices from SH Structures
5 days ago

Scottish civils firm to buy stake in piling specialist

Advance Construction in talks for 25% stake in Northern Piling Ltd
5 days ago

RSK secures £500m for fresh acquisitions spree

Acquisitive group aims to buy another 200 businesses by 2030
5 days ago

Beal Homes gets green light for £105m Humber scheme

Work to start on more than 500 homes in North East Lincolnshire
4 days ago

RED wins £20m East London office refurb

Grade II listed Victorian building to be upgraded to Cat A offices
5 days ago

Employee-owned Neilcott staff share £250,000 payout

Employee-owned building contractor sales jump 38% to £139m
6 days ago

Geoffrey Osborne supply chain hit for £26m

More than 500 suppliers and subcontractors left holding unpaid bills
1 week ago

Race for £800m South West Wales framework

Up to 16 firms face fight to renew spots on regional contractors framework
6 days ago

SME contractors agree 4% pay rise for site workers

Workers will also get an extra day of holiday
1 week ago

South East expansion paying off for Meldrum Group

Turnover up to £55m as North East based contractor expands national coverage
5 days ago

Contractor services