Chemical firm released almost 100 litres of disinfectant into Suffolk river

An Environment Agency officer samples water from the Stour Brook near Haverhill

An Environment Agency officer samples water from the Stour Brook near Haverhill - Credit: Environment Agency

A chemical company has been ordered to pay out more than £66,000 after releasing 93 litres of disinfectant into a river near Haverhill.

International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), an American firm with a plant in Haverhill, released an undiluted solution known as Quatdet into the Stour Brook in October 2017.

The company has been instructed to pay £50,000 to Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust in a civil sanction, as well as the Environment Agency’s investigation and legal costs of £16,299.92 for the case.

The money will support the charity’s work protecting river habitats in the two counties, making changes to procedures and infrastructure.

International Flavors & Fragrances has been ordered to pay out more than £66,000

International Flavors & Fragrances has been ordered to pay out more than £66,000 - Credit: Environment Agency

In agreeing to the sanction, known as an enforcement undertaking that can be used as an alternative to prosecution, the Environment Agency accepted the company’s negligence was not down to dangerous or foolhardy behaviour.

The agency was also satisfied IFF had improved its infrastructure and systems to prevent future incidents.

Ben Marshall, a land and water officer for the Environment Agency in Suffolk, said: "It is important all organisations take action to avoid polluting the environment through careful consideration of their processes and procedures, and the monitoring of operations.

Most Read

"Serious errors occurred at IFF’s Haverhill plant, allowing a cleaning agent to escape into the brook.

"Following the Environment Agency’s investigation, IFF took steps to avoid a repeat by installing equipment to contain spills, and improving its accident-reporting system. The company has also reviewed the sites drainage plans."

The case comes amid a nationwide debate on the cleanliness of the UK's waterways, which the government recently being criticised for blocking an amendment in a bill that would have prevented all discharges of raw sewage into seas and rivers.

All of Suffolk's Conservative MPs backed the government to remove the House of Lords amendment last month.

Data released last year revealed only 14% of English rivers were of a good ecological standard, with all of them failing to meet quality tests for pollution.