Northumbrian fined for unpermitted sewage discharges

Northumbrian Water has been fined 33,600 with costs for three unpermitted discharges of untreated sewage following an Environment Agency (EA) investigation.

The discharges, included pollution, of Smithy Burn in the Tyne Valley with untreated sewage which bypassed the local sewage treatment works. Northumbrian was fined after admitting one charge of causing a discharge of untreated sewage into the burn and after two other similar offences – unpermitted discharges of sewage effluent at separate treatment works near Darlington. – were taken into consideration.

The pollution at Smithy Burn originated from a storm overflow channel that the EA said had not been incorporated into the treatment works’ environmental permit. The agency said Northumbrian’s environmental permit states that discharges to Smithy Burn should consist only of treated sewage effluent. The water company maintained that the storm overflow at had been permitted because it was included in the permit application made back in 1989.

The EA said it found the other two treatment works to be in a poor state of repair. Northumbrian told the court that staff hadn’t followed the company’s inspection procedures.

District Judge Roger Elsey ruled that the company’s culpability was low, but that the additional offences meant the fine had to be increased.