North East Wales

Welsh Water fined £15,000 over sewage spill in River Clywedog

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Media captionAmmonia levels in the river were higher than normal, the court heard

Welsh Water has been fined £15,000 after admitting breaching a permit which led to higher than permitted levels of sewage into a river.

Wrexham magistrates heard it was using overflow tanks at its Five Fords plant when it should not have done, resulting in discharges into the River Clywedog.

The breach probably contributed to higher than normal levels of ammonia in the river, the court heard.

The company has invested in the site and the problem no longer exists.

The firm should have been treating 806 litres of sewage per second at the plant, the court heard.

But an audit by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in 2012 found treatment levels were lower than they should have been.

'Compelling evidence'

As a result, overflow storm tanks were being used and were discharged into the River Clywedog, which leads to the River Dee, the court heard.

Tests on the Clywedog between December 2010 and July 2012 revealed ammonia levels were higher than normal.

The prosecution said it could not say for certain the treatment works was responsible but there was "compelling evidence" that the discharges from the storm tanks had contributed to the high levels.

No harm was caused to the environment or drinking water, the court heard.

Richard Kimblin, defending Welsh Water, said it was not realistic to put 806 litres of sewage per second through the treatment works.

He said the case was not about any harm caused, but about having a permit which accurately reflected the operational features of the site.

At the time, the company was investing about £25m in its operations and "the problem no longer exists", he said.

The firm was ordered to pay £3,793 court costs.

After the case , Alun Shurmer from Welsh Water said: "We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and have invested £25m at our waste water treatment works in Wrexham.

"We regret the breach of consent that occurred at Five Fords but it is important to stress that there was no impact on the environment or our customers and our investment will enable us to meet even tighter environmental standards. "

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