Oil in river costs food firm £10,000

A food group has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 for polluting a Norfolk watercourse.

A food group has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 for polluting a Norfolk watercourse.

Sovereign Food Group was fined £8,000 and told to pay costs of £2,039 by magistrates in King's Lynn after oil from a yard belonging to the company in Attleborough ended up in a nearby stream.

There had been two previous incidents involving pollution of the same watercourse by the company in the past, the court heard.

Magistrates were told that an Environment Agency officer was working in Station Road, Attleborough, on January 16 when he noticed oil on the surface of a nearby watercourse.

He traced it to a site occupied by Grampian Convenience Foods, parent company of Sovereign Foods, where he discovered the surface water drains were contaminated with oil and were feeding into a nearby stream.

An Environment Agency spokesman said that company bosses could not explain why there was oil in their drains and said they had not received any reports from their staff about oil spills. They suggested other sources of the oil in the water but none of these were the cause, he said.

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Magistrates heard that the site did not have adequate protection to its drainage system and, had there been an oil interceptor in place, the incident would not have happened.

Sovereign Foods pleaded guilty to causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely a tributary of the River Thet, and Old Buckenham Road, Attleborough.

After the hearing on Thursday, Euan Simpson, investigating Environment Agency officer, said: “Following a prosecution in May 2006 for pollution of the same watercourse, it is extremely disappointing that the company was again unable to adequately protect the local environment from its activities. The level of fine reflects the serious and repeated nature of this incident.

He added: “We urge companies to correctly store oils, chemicals and other fluids and have staff trained to deal with incidents such as this. They should know where their drains flow to and have adequate protection measures on their drainage systems.”

No comment was available from the company yesterday.

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