Arrow Environmental Services Limited were recently handed a fine of £43,750 and made to pay £80,000 legal costs for illegally dumping waste including chemicals into Severn Trent’s sewer system.
This is the third such prosecution where fines and costs of over £100,000 were handed out by judges, and shows just how serious these offenses are. Severn Trent are highlighting these cases in the hopes that other firms will think twice before carrying out similar actions.
James Jesic, Managing Director of Production for Severn Trent, said: “Our customers pay for damage to the sewer network and the treatment works, so it’s important that we prosecute offenders in appropriate cases and take action to recover costs where possible.
“The limits we set to regulate trade discharges are calculated to make sure they do not adversely affect the capacity of our sewage works to efficiently treat sewage, so exceeding this consent is not only illegal, it can also damage the sewage treatment process and risks causing harm to the environment.
“In these recent cases, we’ve targeted prosecution at companies that have been found to have deliberately decided not to invest in appropriate protection measures to make sure they meet the strict limits in their discharge permits. They have prioritised cost over compliance with their environmental responsibilities and the effects on our sewage treatment works was significant, so we’re happy that the level of fines imposed reflects that.”
Arrow Environmental Services Limited are advertised as a specialist waste disposal company, whose customers include, according to their website, “public sector organisations and local Government, through to some of the UK’s best known brand names, which include the construction and demolition industry.” Severn Trent brought this case to drive home to these firms, and their customers, their responsibilities. Yet this case against Arrow is the latest in a string of prosecutions and convictions for not legally disposing of their waste. The Severn Trent investigation started due to issues at Rayhall sewage works as it struggled to cope with substances entering the system and focused on Arrow because of their very poor compliance record’. On sentencing, the judge found that they had failed to keep promises to both Severn Trent and the Environment Agency to invest in their plant and had deliberately failed to put in place systems that should have been there to avoid the offences.
In January, Beronhill Ltd, pleaded guilty to charges of breaching limits for cyanide, zinc and chemical oxygen demand (COD) at Wolverhampton Crown Court. The Court heard that this was the third time the company had been convicted of illegally discharging heavy metals since 2012. The judge said there was a patent and deliberate lack of care, cavalier behaviour and that warnings had been given time and time again. It was decided that the breaches were a deliberate act and the company £120,000, with another £60,000 in costs, for its actions.
Also in January, Euro Quality Lambs (EQL) of Craven Arms, were fined £100,000 with nearly £12,000 in costs awarded for ‘reckless’ and ‘negligent’ discharges to the sewer system, impacting Severn Trent’s sewage treatment works ability to operate effectively. EQL had had over 25 notifications that they had breached their discharge limits for ammoniacal nitrogen and had not changed their actions. They plead guilty and have since invested in better treatment and sorted out their site.
James added: “Although we are very happy with the outcome of these trials, rather than having to take action in court, we would much prefer to work together with businesses to prevent any breaches occurring in the first place. We hope that these fines will serve as a deterrent to other firms, and their customers, who are not doing what they should.”