Cumbrian Seafoods, of Seaham, admitted three charges and asked for another eight offences to be taken into consideration.

The firm admitted discharging trade effluent into the sewerage network above the allowed limit set by Northumbrian Water and also allowing effluent to escape into the surface water drains between October 2008 and March this year.

Magistrates fined them the maximum £5,000 on one charge and £2,500 each for the other two charges.

Solicitor Paul Kelly, prosecuting for Northumbrian Water, told the court that oily materials in the effluent had a serious impact when it reached the sewage treatment works at Seaham threatening the treatment process and which required an extensive clean-up operation.

Cumbrian Seafoods were also ordered to pay costs for the subsequent investigation and clean up totalling £16,222.78.

The seafood production company told the court the problem started after they moved operations from Maryport in Cumbria to Seaham and the battering process at the plant was a contributing factor when their own pre-treatment waste facility failed to operate effectively.

Paul Kelly told magistrates that, in addition to exceeding the consent level for trade effluent into the sewer network, effluent with similar characteristics to raw sewage also escaped into the surface water drains which discharge direct to Seaham beach without any additional treatment.

Luke Walsh

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