Environment Agency enforcement in Wales, Essex and Yorkshire

Recent pollution of the Tawe and Sirhowy rivers in Wales as well as pollution by Magnox Electric, operator of the Bradwell power station, and a Leeds-based chemical company have resulted in legal action by the Environment Agency.

Environment Agency (EA) Wales’ environment protection and fisheries officers have been investigating the scene of a pollution incident at Ystradgynlais. Over 100 fish – mostly salmon and trout – had been killed by the pollution, which was originally believed to have entered the River Tawe from a nearby industrial estate.

On 13 August, EA officers took samples from the river and the estate to try to identify the pollutant and its source. Paul Edmonds, environmental protection officer in the EA’s South West Wales area, said: “I would urge people not to take any dead fish from the river.”

Kathryn Corcoran of the EA said: “Our investigations are complete and a report is being prepared for consideration by our legal team. We are unable to say – for legal reasons – who we suspect caused the pollution.”

In Essex, the EA has served an Enforcement Notice on Magnox Electric Plc, the operator of Bradwell power station, following the discharge of the contents of a liquid effluent storage tank without adequate filtration.

The EA was informed of the incident by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and subsequently by the company. The EA has requested a written report and the carrying out of additional environmental monitoring by the company. Pollution inspectors have visited the station to carry out a preliminary investigation and an Enforcement Notice has been served on that basis. This requires the company to install additional filtration equipment, take remedial action to repair or replace filters, and to review shift hand-over procedures.

In Leeds, the EA has taken action against Contract Chemicals Ltd following an incident on 6 July. The company was served with an Enforcement Notice after a chemical release, which resulted in the evacuation of local residents from their homes.

The notice will require the company to review all similar operations and equipment to that which led to the release of benzyl bromide. It requires the company to satisfy the EA that its operations do not pose a risk of serious pollution to the environment. Specific equipment that led to the chemical release is still subject to a Prohibition Notice which remains in place until further notice.

Finally, Caerphilly County Borough Council was fined a total of £7,000 after it admitted polluting the River Sirhowy.

EA Wales found that the cause of the pollution was a vehicle sump wash-out from the Council’s yard at Pen-raen industrial estate. In addition, other surface water drains on the site appeared to be receiving industrial effluents, including diesel fuel, which was found in the river.

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