THE UK’s largest food manufacturer Premier Foods has been fined £15,000 for discharging an excessive amount of effluent into the sewage system in Worksop.
Premier Foods Group Limited was prosecuted by Severn Trent Water at Worksop Magistrates’ Court for breaches of the Water Industry Act 1991.
The company has also been ordered to pay legal costs of £5,106.18 following the case.
The court heard effluent discharged at its factory on Dukeries Industrial Estate was 26 times above the permitted limit for oxygen content and 23 times the permitted limit for suspended solids.
Simon Cocks, waste water services director for Severn Trent Water, said: “The limits we set to regulate trade discharges are calculated to ensure they do not adversely affect the capacity of our sewage works to efficiently treat sewage.”
“So exceeding these limits is not only illegal; it can damage the sewage treatment process and risk causing harm to the environment.”
He added: “In addition, our customers are paying for damage to the sewer network and sewage works caused by these kind of incidents, so it’s important that we hold companies to account.”
“However, rather than having to take action in court, we would prefer to work together with companies to prevent any breaches in the first place.”
The court heard that a thorough investigation had been carried out afterwards into the cause of the leak.
It was traced to a large sauce bowl, and found that the valve which separated solid material from the liquid had not been used, subsequently releasing solids straight into the sewer.
The Premier Foods group manufactures a wide range of branded foods for companies such as OXO, Sharwoods and Homepride.
Representing Premier Foods in court were factory general manager Karl Smith and environmental team leader Gary Parnell.
Speaking through their solicitor they expressed ‘sincere regret’ on behalf of the company and said that measures had since been taken to prevent any similar pollution happening again.
They include more staff training and a redesign of the sauce bowl.
Magistrates said they considered it a ‘serious breach’ of environmental conditions, but recognised the remedies which had been put in place.
Premier Foods was fined £15,000 and made to pay prosecution costs of £5,106, making a total of £20,106.