"Reckless" Yorkshire fined £600,000 for waterway sewage pollution

Yorkshire Water has been fined £600,000 for polluting a watercourse with sewage that had leaked out from a poorly-maintained storage tank.

The company was sentenced last week in the Crown Court, after admitting one charge of causing a water discharge activity into Dales Beck, at Dalehouse in July 2015 without an environmental permit. Yorkshire told the court that it had since invested in measures to prevent the incident recurring.

The court heard how Yorkshire did not immediately clean up sewage sludge in a yard near the tank because it failed to note from its own site manual that the site drainage was not sealed. The court heard that Yorkshire was still cleaning sewage sludge from the water some three months after the incident. The judge found that the company had been reckless.

The pollution came from a derelict, leaking sludge storage tank, at Yorkshire’s Hinderwell Waste Water Treatment Works. The pollution had discoloured the watercourse and left it with high levels of ammonia and low dissolved oxygen. The pollution flowed to Staithes Harbour, a then designated bathing water site where it spoiled the water quality during the peak holiday season. Yorkshire initially blamed a nearby Potash Mine for the water discolouration, but subsequent investigation revealed the treatment works as the source.

The company was also ordered to pay £28,078.10 in legal costs.