Environment Agency tells business to learn from United Utilities mistakes

The Environment Agency is urging companies to learn from United Utilities mistakes after the company was fined £145,000 for discharging partially treated sewage into the River Mersey.

The Environment Agency is warning businesses to make sure they have the correct monitoring in place to avoid environmental accidents of this kind.

The incident occurred at the company’s Liverpool Waste Water Treatment Works at Sandon Dock in Liverpool in 2010.

The illegal discharge came from an overflow pipe which should only have been used in an emergency.

This overflow was discharging partially treated sewage into the River Mersey, because the treatment plant could not deal with all the effluent it was required to.

The overflow bypassed the quality sampling point used to asses compliance with the expected standards.

United Utilities was not authorised by the Environment Agency for this discharge pipe and did not monitor it.

Environment Agency area manager, Keith Ashcroft, said: “There has been great work undertaken by many in the North West over the last 150 years to return the River Mersey to a healthier state and it is vital that we all continue to build upon these improvements.

“We urge all companies not to be complacent and to learn from this case. We would encourage all industries to ensure that the proper monitoring and process controls are in place to minimise their environmental impact and ensure that they comply with environmental standards required by law to protect and improve the environment.

Since the incident, United Utilities have undertaken remedial works, including a refurbishment programme, to improve the situation.

The Environment Agency is working with United Utilities to ensure a long term solution is developed to protect the river and coast.

Alison Brown

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