By Yaro Dmitriev
Yorkshire Water has been fined £1.1 million for illegally spewing sewage into the River Ouse in York.
Yorkshire Water was fined on Friday 29 April at Leeds Crown Court, after admitting three environmental offences in Naburn treatment works in Fulford.
Large volumes of sewage were visible discharging from the nearby Yorkshire Water plant into the river Ouse. The sewage had overflowed into the river due to a pump failure at the treatment works. Three pumps are needed to cope with the volume of sewage, and it is illegal to have less than at least one backup pump available in case of an emergency.
With only two pumps working, sewage flowed into emergency storage tanks, filled them up, and approximately 6,000 cubic metres of sewage overflowed through an old outfall into the river, at a location where discharges are not permitted. Had the backup pump been operational, the pollution incident would have been avoided.
Despite this incident, the backup pump was found to be out of operation again just over a year later, during a site inspection by the Environment Agency in September 2014. The pump had been taken away for repair, but had not been replaced.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Water companies have a legal duty to ensure that their operations do not pose a threat to the environment. In this case, Yorkshire Water failed to have in place appropriate pumping equipment needed to process sewage at its Naburn treatment works. The resulting pollution had an impact on the quality of the water in the Ouse, affecting up to a kilometre of the river”.
The court ordered Yorkshire Water to pay £27,073.69 costs.