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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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United Utilities to upgrade waterworks after £200,000 fine

A water firm is preparing to carry out a £5 million improvement scheme in Cumbria after it was fined £200,000 for pumping raw sewage into a prime salmon spawning river.

United Utilities admitted five offences of contravening an environmental permit and asked for 17 similar offences to be taken into consideration before magistrates in Workington in April last year.

The company had discharged sewage from its Cleator works directly into the River Keekle. This was illegal as the works still had capacity to treat more waste. An Environment Agency-led investigation established that the company had deliberately reduced the flow rate because of hydraulic pump deficiencies at the plant.

United Utilities has now announced that the Cleator Works, which treats the waste of around 13,000 people in Cleator Moor, Frizington and the West Lakes Science and Technology Park, will be fitted with new and upgraded tanks, pipework, screens and filters.

The project will start later this month and take almost a year to complete.

Project manager Richard Townsend said work was essential to protect wildlife and water quality in the River Keekle.

He said: “In the past we’ve had issues with some of the discharges from Cleator’s sewage works into the Keekle. Although fortunately there was no evidence of environmental damage, we were fined and we want to make sure that can’t happen again.

“Cleator’s sewage plant is working hard to meet its requirements, but when we have finished it will be functioning well, with enough capacity to treat extra waste from Ennerdale too.

“The extra storm storage will also improve the standard of local bathing waters downstream by reducing the number of times the local sewer system overflows in heavy rains.

“There will be some quite large-scale engineering work to do, not least building two new 20m diameter tanks. But most will take place within the site boundary so the impact on neighbouring communities will be kept to a minimum.”

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