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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Cumbrian creamery fined for trade waste discharge into sewer

A national dairy company based in Cumbria has been ordered to pay nearly £9,000 after their waste got into public sewers.

The First Milk Cheese Company, which runs the Lake District Creamery in Station Road, Aspatria, was fined £1,750 by North Cumbria Magistrates Court and ordered to pay a further £7,200 in costs.

The case was brought to court by United Utilities who said that in May last year, waste made up of milk, water, whey and cleaning chemicals had got into the public foul sewer system because of a damaged drain belonging to First Milk.

The waste had entered the public sewer and was visible on the surface as a white foam, prompting workers to report it to United Utilities.

The water company said that First Milk should have checked that particular part of the sewerage system more carefully.

James Moss, prosecuting on behalf of United Utilities, said: “United Utilities attended the business and did a survey of drains to see in fact something was being discharged. It was clearly something that wasn’t plain water.”

The court heard how this discharge can be more polluting than untreated sewerage because the high bio-chemical oxygen content can limit other waste removal processes.

However, it was accepted by both parties that the breach had been accidental and that no actual harm was caused to the environment as a result.

Mr Moss added: “United Utilities say it [checks] really should have been done sooner. Had checks on the overall layout of the plan been done more frequently it would have been stopped sooner.”

Rod Hunt, defending, said the company accepted the breaches but had an exemplary environmental record, calling this case “unusual circumstances”.

He told the court: “This is a company that is fully committed to complying with its environmental obligations. It is proud of its strong and active relationship with the Environment Agency."

He added that the company had since spent around £15,000 to further improve their sewerage.

Upon imposing the fine, magistrates said that this was the first incident in a clean record and the company had apologised to both the court and United Utilities for the breach.

Speaking after the hearing, Kevin Sayers, wastewater area business manager for Cumbria, said: “Dairy wastes have the potential to be highly damaging. Uncontrolled discharges to our sewers can affect the delicate biological organisms which are an essential part of our treatment process, causing problems which can be costly, disruptive for our customers and also bad for the environment.”

A spokesman for the First Milk Cheese Company, said: “We have co-operated fully throughout, and apologise for this incident.”

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