Fenland catering company fined £2,000 for polluting stream with effluent from treatment plant

PUBLISHED: 12:42 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:33 02 June 2010

Roffe's, fined £2,000

Roffe's, fined £2,000

A FENLAND catering company has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs for polluting a stream with catering and sewage effluent from its treatment plant. Magistrates were yesterday that waste water samples taken from an outfall pipe at premises

A FENLAND catering company has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs for polluting a stream with catering and sewage effluent from its treatment plant.

Magistrates were yesterday that waste water samples taken from an outfall pipe at premises run by Roffe's Catering Ltd at Sutton St James showed that it was grossly polluting.

Miss Claire Bentley, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told Spalding magistrates that the site started operating in November 2008 without a discharge consent. She said there were no routine maintenance checks to ensure the treatment plant was functioning properly.

Roffe's only became aware of a failure in the system when Environment Agency officers arrived on site in response to reports of a pollution in the Baulkins Drove Drain, Miss Bentley told the court.

The pollution made the watercourse cloudy and smelly according to an Environment Agency officer who investigated on 22 May 2009. A dye trace confirmed that the polluting liquid was coming from Roffe's Catering.

Magistrates were told that the outfall pipe was still discharging polluting waste liquid when Agency officers visited on 5 June and 25 June.

Company director Mary Owen told investigating officers that the effluent treatment plant started discharging into the tributary in November 2008 but was unaware that the effluent was polluting. She said she had been reliant on her project manager to obtain a discharge consent for the plant.

She said the problem had been caused by a defective blower unit and the company had last checked the plant's pump three weeks before the incident. She said there was no system of routine maintenance.

Owen said that since the incident the company had applied for a discharge consent, installed a new blower unit, emptied and cleaned the tank, installed a new aeration pump with warning lights, stopped discharging until the problem was resolved, and decided to only discharge treated sewage waste and not catering liquid.

Miss Bentley told the court that large numbers of dead invertebrates were found in the drain and the high numbers of rat-tailed maggots at the point of discharge and for 200 metres downstream indicated a prolonged period of contamination. She said the impact had continued for 900 metres downstream into the Baulkins Drain.

After the hearing, Environment Agency team leader, ManFai Tang said: "Companies or individuals who treat their sewage with a package treatment plant must ensure that they have a relevant permit to discharge and that the plant is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations in order to prevent pollution to the environment."

Roffe's Catering pleaded guilty to:

On or about 22 May 2009 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, namely catering effluent and sewage effluent, to enter controlled waters, namely a tributary of the Baulkins Drove Drain at Sutton St James, Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Contrary to section 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.


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