Firm fined for pollution

A frozen food processing factory was yesterday fined £10,000 after polluted water escaped from one of its disused pits in to a waterway.

A frozen food processing factory was yesterday fined £10,000 after polluted water escaped from one of its disused pits in to a waterway.

Pinguin Foods UK Ltd in King's Lynn admitted a charge of causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter the town's Pierpoint Drain.

Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency before Lynn magistrates, said that after being notified by a member of the public, an investigating officer at the drain was overcome by a strong sulphurous odour similar to that of rotten eggs and the water was black and septic.

The vegetable processing effluent had got into the waterway through an outfall surface water sewer, which was usually for rainwater.

The court heard the polluted water had come from a disused effluent pit after it was blocked. When the pit overflowed the polluted water got out into the outfall and spilled in to the drain.

Mrs McDonald said there had been a number of aggravating factors including evidence that the dark-coloured water had been getting into the waterway for some time and the company only became aware of the situation when the agency visited the site. And there had been no record of checks at the waterway.

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Bernard Brown, for Pinguin, said the incident had been an accident. As a result the company had spent more than £500,000 on measures to improve the effluent treatment system at its Scania Way plant.

As reported in the EDP, Pinguin Foods made a number of people redundant earlier this year because of troubles facing the food processing industry in general.

Mr Brown told the court the company had recently made an application to West Norfolk Council for hardship relief on its council rates.

The company was fined £10,000 by the magistrates and ordered to pay £1,585 in costs.

Speaking after the case, David Batterham, said: “The discharge from Pinguin Foods caused significant and long lasting damage to the Pierpoint Drain which is typically very clean with good submerged weed growth. On this occasion the drain was black and very smelly. Weeds were covered in grey sewage fungus.”