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£65,000 fine for South West Water as a result of toxic chemical spill

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South West Water has been fined £65.000 for illegally discharging aluminium chloride into the East Looe river in Cornwall.

The Environment Agency (EA) prosecuted the company after the spill was reported at the sewerage treatment works near the river last year.

The toxic chemical is stored in a bunded tank,  and is then used to improve the quality of the effluent before it leaves the sewerage treatment works. However, there was a break in the pipe, resulting in the aluminium chloride leaking into the river via a buried manhole.

The total amount of the toxic leakage is not know, and the EA has advised the company that they should keep a record of it’s use. The chemical is toxic to fish and could have devastating effects to the wildlife in the river.

“The toxic nature of aluminium chloride places a special responsibility upon water companies and other users of this chemical to ensure this chemical is handled and stored with great care,” said Rob Hocking prosecuting for the EA. “Every effort should be made to minimise the risk of it escaping into the environment.”

South West Water was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs. 

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