Thames Water’s Prosecution Wins Hefty Fines and Costs
1. The Chitty Food Group has been fined nearly £28,000 after admitting pumping too much waste into a waterway. The company, which runs a slaughterhouse in Guildford, Surrey, in the Slyfield industrial estate, admitted 10 counts of breaching trade effluent concentration limits and one of failing to install and maintain metering equipment to measure effluent discharges.
2. Guildford magistrates imposed fines of £2500 for each of the effluent breaches, with a further £2,800 penalty for the remaining offence. Legal costs and investigation fees of £4384 were also awarded to Thames Water, who had brought the prosecution. Thames Water said that the offences were committed between July 2007 and August 2008, and the court heard that on one occasion, levels of ammoniacal nitrogen were found to be up to 9 times higher than they should have been. “Settleable solids” including bone particles, hooves, and gristle were recorded up to more than 5 times the allowed limit, while on one occasion fat and oil from carcases were 7 times the permitted levels. Thames Water Trade Effluent manager Tony McHattie said after the case: “We take breaches like this very seriously. They put our sewage treatment works under incredible strain and could result in environmental damage. This case should serve as a warning to other companies that we will not hesitate to take action if you are disposing of illegal levels of waste into our sewerage network.”
3. Tony McHattie said: “We are keen to work with firms to help them meet their legal requirements, but we are prepared to take the matter to court if they disregard their obligations.” Andrew Chitty, from the Chitty Food Group, said: “On Thursday 13th August 2009 Thames Water prosecuted us at Guildford Magistrates Court for breaching the consent levels of our trade effluent from the plant at Guildford, Surrey. We pleaded guilty and were fined accordingly. The court accepted that no environmental impact has occurred. We are treating these breaches extremely seriously and working hard to ensure there is no future repetition.”
4. Chitty’s, which supplies meat to supermarkets, has caused trouble in the past for local councillors and animal welfare groups, such as nuisances due to overnight running of machinery and arrivals of animals intended for slaughter. The livestock market that was held in the adjoining buildings is now closed to business, in order to reduce the stress and injury of livestock in journeys between the farm and slaughterhouse. Some years ago, when animal welfarists were marching and demonstrating at the Royal Smithfield Show, held at Earls Court, London, vigils were mounted outside the premises in Guildford to mark arrivals of consignments of animals involved in the live-dead judging during the Show. In an example of the procedure a pen of 3 sheep provided one for judging live and removal for slaughter and butchering and next day. The carcase was returned and hung over the remaining live occupants of the pen, the carcase now being judged as such for comparison with the results and verdicts obtained from the examination of the animal live. Not a pretty sight, and effective in disgusting visitors to the Show.