Severn Trent Water fined more than £2 million over river sewage pollution

Severn Trent Water has been fined more than £2 million for polluting the River Trent near Stoke .

Huge amounts of raw sewage were discharged into the river from Strongford Wastewater Treatment Works (WTW) near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, between November 2019 and February 2020.

District Judge Kevin Grego ruled at Cannock Magistrates Court on Monday that there was a reckless failure by the company to have in place and implement a proper system of contingency planning.

Severn Trent Water had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of illegally discharging raw sewage.

The company was fined £1,072,000 and £1,000,000 plus costs of £16,476.67 and a victim’s surcharge of £181.

Approximately 240 million litres of raw sewage were discharged illegally by the company, equivalent to 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The sewage flowed into the river after two of the three screw pumps failed at Strongford WTW.

Adam Shipp, a senior environment officer at the Environment Agency who led the investigation, said: “Severn Trent were fortunate that this incident did not cause a catastrophic pollution in the Trent as the river already had high flows when the discharge occurred.

“Our investigation showed that their contingency plans were woefully inadequate, with a major pump being out of action for 52 days prior to the incident.

“Even though Severn Trent knew Storm Clara and Storm Dennis were about to arrive they did not think to proactively source alternative pumps and get them to site.

“When the second of the three pumps failed it made sourcing and installing a replacement pump very difficult and as a consequence the works was not properly functioning for another five days and eight hours.

“This is not the sort of response we would expect to see from a professional multinational company and as a consequence they have now put in place on-site measures to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”