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Water company fined for sewage spills near holiday beach

Three spills from Station Road sewage pumping station at Perranporth when crude sewage was discharged into the Bolingey stream

South West Water was today ordered to pay £11,713 in fines and costs after sewage polluted a stream near one of Cornwall's most popular surfing and bathing beaches.

The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On 26 June, 2012, there were three spills from Station Road sewage pumping station at Perranporth when crude sewage was discharged into the Bolingey stream only a short distance from Perranporth beach. The site is owned and operated by South West Water.

Illegal discharges followed a pump failure at an adjoining sewage pumping station at Droskyn that receives sewage from the Perranporth area via the Station Road site before pumping it forward for treatment.

South West Water staff discovered a mechanical failure had caused the duty pump to stop working and that the standby pump was partially blocked and not operating at full capacity. This had caused flows at Station Road to back-up and sewage to be discharged into the Bolingey stream.

South West Water alerted the Agency of the spills and also arranged for mechanical works to take place at Droskyn and for the tankering away of effluent from Station Road. However, spills had been occurring for up to three hours prior to those actions taking place.

Andrew Blewett for the Environment Agency, said:
"South West Water had sufficient advance warning through their alarm system and knowledge of a similar previous incident to put the necessary measures in place to mitigate these discharges occurring. We are however pleased to note that South West Water has invested in new infrastructure at Droskyn pumping station which we hope will mean that future problems can be dealt with more quickly,"
Appearing before Truro magistrates, South West Water, of Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,713 costs after pleading guilty to discharging a poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to an inland freshwater without a permit, an offence under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

This is the second prosecution of South West Water for spills from the same pumping station.