Thames Water responds to £20m wastewater pollution fine
LONDON, England – Thames Water Utilities Ltd (Thames Water) has been fined an unprecedented £20.3 million in fines and costs for a series of significant pollution incidents on the River Thames.
The prosecution saw six separate cases – which caused widespread, repeated, sustained and avoidable pollution at a number of sites from 2012 to 2014 – brought together in one hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court.
Regulator the Environment Agency (EA) said it is the “biggest freshwater pollution case” in its 20 year history.
The court heard how Thames Water’s repeated illegal discharges of sewage into the River Thames, and its tributaries, resulted in major environmental damage including visible sewage along 14 kilometres of the river, and the death of birds, fish and invertebrates.
Investigations carried out by Environment Agency officers revealed a catalogue of failures by Thames Water’s management.
The Court heard how for weeks, untreated sewage, amounting to millions of litres per day, was diverted to the rivers and away from the treatment process, although the incoming sewage flow was well within the designed capacity of the treatment works.
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: "This case sends a clear signal to the industry that safeguarding the environment is not an optional extra, it is an essential part of how all companies must now operate.” His Honour Judge Sheridan, condemned the “disgraceful conduct” of Thames Water Utilities Limited, which he said was “entirely foreseeable and preventable.” It was “a very dark period in the history of Thames Water” who demonstrated “scant regard for the law, with dreadful results for people who live in the area,” he said.
These have included increasing the numbers of staff in key operational roles and investing heavily to improve reliability.
As a result, our performance has significantly improved.
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