Chips are down for polluting frozen-food company

Wastewater from a frozen food company that spilled into a nearby water course has been found to be about 30 times more polluting than raw sewage.

The findings were revealed during a hearing in which Garden Isle Frozen Foods was found guilty of causing serious pollution to a tributary which fed into the Great Boleness Field Drain in Wisbech. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,242 costs after pleading guilty to the incident.

The pollution was first noticed last August, with reports of a bad smell coming from a drain at the back of premises in Enterprise Way, Wisbech. Samples were taken from the area and found to be severely polluted.

The Environment Agency then investigated and found that a large drain pipe meant for rainwater was actually discharging waste-water and causing a foaming scum on the water surface.

Further tests by the Agency showed that the pollution had caused several species in the tributary to die, while whole chips and vegetable waste could be seen floating in the water.

Bob Gurney, a Garden Isle Frozen Foods manager told investigating officers that there had been a mechanical failure on an effluent pump which had been installed the year before and vegetable waste water had been washed into the storm drains.

Tankers had been booked to clean up the pollution but hadn’t arrived until the following day by which time the untreated waste water had reached the Great Boleness Field Drain.

The company pleaded guilty to causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters.

After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Nick Frear said: “Such incidents are unfortunately not uncommon and it is important that those companies who’s operations have the potential to pollute are aware of their responsibilities to safeguard the environment.”

“Hopefully, this case will both inform and deter potential polluters,” he added.

David Hopkins

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