Water and Waste Treatment news briefs

SW Water awaits flood of Camelford claims; Ring fences enforced prior to price cuts; Groundwater protection charge levied at £108; ET 2000 award categories

South West Water is to be sued for causing brain damage as a result of the Camelford aluminium poisoning incident in 1988. Research published by Oxford Radcliffe Hospital scientists in September’s British Medical Journal linked the incident to 55 cases of brain damage. People in the Camelford area drank contaminated water after 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate was deposited in the wrong tank at the wastewater treatment plant. SW Water was convicted of endangering public health in 1991, and now faces claims of up to £200,000 per individual. If successful the claims will be settled via SW Water’s insurance company.

Industry regulator Ian Byatt has changed the licences of seven water supply companies, to try and prevent them transferring the cost of his proposed price cuts onto customers. Essex and Suffolk, Bournemouth and Hampshire, Folkestone and Dover, North Surrey, South-East, Tendring Hundred and Three Valleys Water have all been targeted in Ofwat’s latest ring-fencing manoeuvre, intended to ensure that: “The water company’s dividend policy does not undermine its ability to finance the proper carrying out of its functions.” This includes preventing the public supply company from using any of its assets to help fund any private-sector business.

All businesses authorised to dispose of potentially hazardous substances on land are to receive a bill for £108 from the Environment Agency (EA). The bill is said to cover the EA’s monitoring and inspection costs, necessary under the new groundwater regulations, which came into effect in April of this year. The regulations require anyone disposing of hazardous wastes (such as pesticides, heavy metals or ammonia) to be authorised by the EA.

Awards categories for the Environmental Technology 2000 show (6-8 June) have been announced. The six main categories are as follows:

  • Sustainable development
  • Product innovation
  • Environmental research and development
  • Waste management achievement
  • Export achievement
  • Water customer efficiency and choice

A seventh ‘award of distinction’ may be presented to a company which the organisers consider has contributed to the principles of sustainable development over and above customer expectations.

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