Severn Trent fined more than £2m for ‘reckless’ pollution of River Trent

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Severn Trent has been fined more than £2m for polluting the River Trent near Stoke, with the Environment Agency calling its storm contingency plans “woefully inadequate”.

Huge amounts of raw sewage were discharged into the river from Strongford wastewater treatment works near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, between November 2019 and February 2020.

District judge Kevin Grego ruled at Cannock magistrates court on Monday that there was a failure by the water supplier to have in place and implement a proper system of contingency planning.

Severn Trent had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of illegally discharging raw sewage.

The company was fined £1,072,000 and £1m plus costs of £16,476 and a victim’s surcharge of £181, the PA news agency reported. Approximately 240m litres of raw sewage were discharged illegally by the company.

The sewage flowed into the river after two of the three screw pumps failed at Strongford works.

Adam Shipp, a senior environment officer at the Environment Agency who led the investigation, said: “Severn Trent were fortunate that this incident did not cause a catastrophic pollution in the Trent as the river already had high flows when the discharge occurred.

“Our investigation showed that their contingency plans were woefully inadequate, with a major pump being out of action for 52 days prior to the incident. Even though Severn Trent knew Storm Clara and Storm Dennis were about to arrive they did not think to proactively source alternative pumps and get them to site.

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“When the second of the three pumps failed, it made sourcing and installing a replacement pump very difficult and as a consequence the works was not properly functioning for another five days and eight hours.

“This is not the sort of response we would expect to see from a professional multinational company and as a consequence they have now put in place onsite measures to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”

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