Firm fined for causing fish deaths

A FARMING company has been fined £8,000 for a pollution incident which led to the deaths of more than 500 fish.

A FARMING company has been fined £8,000 for a pollution incident which led to the deaths of more than 500 fish.

Ammonia fertilizer ended up in a ditch that runs into the River Dove, near Eye.

It killed fish in a lake at Wickham Hall, Wickham Skeith when ammonia levels became very high.

APT Farming, of Capel St Mary, was fined £8,000 by magistrates at Bury St Edmunds and ordered to pay £3,300 costs after it admitted causing the pollution on February 28.

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The company was also ordered to pay £2,600 compensation to the owners of Wickham Hall for the restocking of the lake.

Magistrates heard that within days of the pollution more than 500 fish were dead in the lake. Some of those were carp measuring between 10cm and 60cm.

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Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting, said that Environment Agency officers traced the pollution from the lake to Elm Farm where they saw obvious signs of spillage from a large open top tank containing a deep brown liquid.

The yard sloped towards a large open surface water drain and the liquid was running into it, she told the court.

Officers located the owner/operator who said he had not been aware of any problem but the site was not continuously manned.

Mrs McDonald told magistrates that the tank used for mixing fertilizers was clearly not sited in an appropriate location according to a code of practice produced by the Fertilizer Manufacturers' Association.

She said that downstream of the discharge the rivers are used for water abstraction although there was no evidence of impact to the supply.

After the hearing, Environment Agency officer, Nick Davis, said: “Pollution incidents can cause significant harm to our rivers, both in terms of water quality and amenity value. It is the responsibility of the polluter to ensure that any spillages are contained and removed ensuring that it does not reach any watercourses.

“We take all incidents of water pollution very seriously indeed and will take appropriate legal action where required.

“Accidents can occur but it is important to ensure the quality of the installation, and emergency procedures on site protect the environment when things do go wrong.

“The code of practice issued by the Fertilizer Manufacturers' Association provides clear guidelines on the siting of fertilizer stores and the appropriate containment required.

“The Environment Agency will willingly provide guidance and advice and I would advise people to ask for our help before an incident such as this occurs, rather than end up in court.”

A spokeswoman for APT Farming said there was no-one available to comment.

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