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Fined £30,000 for milk spill

'Poor' waste management

Grimsby's Towns Croft Drain was highly contaminated with milk and vegetable waste from premises in Athenian Way owned by Bakkavor Foods Ltd. who have been fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,710 costs for breaching the Water Resources Act.

The town's magistrates' court heard today (Thurs) that a large number of dead invertebrates were found downstream of the discharge and that fish had been affected. Food waste has a severe and detrimental impact in water because it uses up dissolved oxygen as it breaks down. Dissolved oxygen is essential for aquatic life.

Mr Kieran Martyn, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told magistrates that the company's management of wastes at their premises was poor and they had allowed yard surfaces to become contaminated with food waste, including the most highly polluting of all foods, milk.

'The company continued to manage the site poorly after the first incident on 28 August and even after being interviewed under caution for this incident,' he said. 'An ecological survey found that this was not just a recent problem.'

The pollution was spotted by a member of public on 28 August last year when they found that a tributary of the Towns Croft Drain was milky white and smelt of rotten eggs. An Environment Agency officer attended the site and traced the discolouration back to a pipe coming from the Bakkavor Foods site on Athenian Way. Inside the factory site he saw UHT milk dripping from a skip and flowing into a drain, liquid dripping from the effluent treatment plant and a small pile of food waste on the ground .

On a follow-up visit the following day another Environment Agency officer saw that during cleaning of the yard, food and other contaminants were being flushed into the surface water drain. He found pasta, rice, carrots and beans in the Towns Croft Drain and told the company to stop food waste getting into the drain.

A dye test carried out by an Environment Agency officer in October showed that the surface water drain in the company's yard discharged directly into the Towns Croft Drain.

At the same time the officer noted that the foul effluent drain appeared to be blocked and was overflowing into the same surface water drain. Samples of the polluting discharge in the Towns Croft Drain were taken and the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)* was found to be more than 200 times more than the unpolluted upstream sample.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Christian Martin said: 'Despite being warned following the first incident in August, the company again allowed highly organic polluting matter to enter the watercourse. This should send out a clear message to companies that the Environment Agency will take action against those who disregard environmental law.'

Bakkavor Foods Ltd pleaded guilty to:

1. On or about 28th August 2007 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Towns Croft Drain at Great Coates, Grimsby.

Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991 FINED £15,000

2. On or about 9th October 2007 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Towns Croft Drain at Great Coates, Grimsby.

Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991 FINED £15,000

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