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 Orchid Investments Ltd fined £16k over chemical toilet effluent discharge

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David Harvey


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PostSubject: Orchid Investments Ltd fined £16k over chemical toilet effluent discharge   Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:33 am

Today, Orchid Investments Ltd, pleaded guilty at Leamington Magistrates’ Court to causing a discharge of chemical toilet effluent into a tributary of the Gran Brook on or before the 15 August 2011 without having an environmental permit in place.

The company was fined £16,000, ordered to pay £9,367 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

The charge was brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010.
On behalf of the Environment Agency, Sheila Abrahams, solicitor told the court that this case concerns the significant pollution of a tributary of the Gran Brook at Long Marston Airfield near Stratford upon Avon, which is a tributary of the River Avon, resulting in the death of over 300 fish.

Orchid Investments Ltd supplied sanitation services for the Bulldog Bash Annual Event in August 2011. Normally, sealed plastic holding tanks would be used to contain the effluent during the event, prior to the removal off site to a sewage treatment works for treatment. On this occasion, the holding vessel was a ‘lagoon’ type cutting within the watercourse itself, which the company had wrongly assumed was lined. Therefore, the effluent was discharged directly into the watercourse.

The discharge of the chemical toilet effluent happened on, or around 15 August 2011. It resulted in a significant water pollution which killed over 300 fish of various species including roach, minnows, perch and dace. Ammonia results showed that the increased levels of ammonia found in the watercourse were directly toxic to fish. The fish kill and extent of the pollution significantly impacted 2.2km of the watercourse, however, investigations showed that the total distance affected by the pollution extended to 3.7km, reaching the confluence with the River Avon.

The impact was minimised by the extensive clean-up operations carried out by the Environment Agency. Officers attended the site around the clock to monitor and to contain the pollution, in order to minimise the risk of the pollutant entering the River Avon.
A representative of Orchid Investments Ltd was interviewed under caution on 9 November 2011. The company expressed remorse for damage to the environment and acknowledged that there was an element of negligence on their part.

Speaking after the case, Kate Grimsditch, the Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said, “Rivers and watercourses are an important part of our environment, and we must do our best to protect them from pollution. Regulations are in place for a good reason, and we will not hesitate to prosecute in cases where they are disregarded.”

In mitigation, the court was told that the company had expressed remorse for this incident and had entered a plea at the earliest opportunity. The company had cooperated fully with the Environment Agency and have taken steps to ensure there will be no repeat incidents in future.
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