United Utilities (UU) and its contractor have been fined almost £1 million for polluting a brook.
The water company has been sentenced to pay £600,000 and contractor KMI+ has to pay £330,000, according to the Environment Agency.
KMI+ was contracted by UU to carry out improvement works at Wayoh water treatment works at Turton Bottoms, near Bolton. It emptied and removed a tank which stored sodium hypochlorite.
The majority of the contents of the tank were removed but up to 300 litres of the toxic chemical were left in the bottom.
Furthermore, nobody was aware of the existence of faults in the drainage system, so the diluted toxic chemical entered the surface water drainage system being discharged to Bradshaw Brook.
The Environment Agency was first alerted to the impact of the pollution after a member of the public found dead fish floating in the water. The brook was so badly polluted that virtually all aquatic organisms, including fish, shrimp and earthworms, were killed.
Gordon Whitaker, Environment Manager said: “This was a serious and avoidable pollution incident caused by the negligence of both parties. It took several months for Bradshaw Brook to return to a healthy state and even then it was necessary to assist this process by restocking fish in the affected stretch.
“This case should bring home the message to all company directors and shareholders that environmental offences are taken seriously both by the regulators and the courts.”
United Utilities said it “fully accept the court’s decision in light of the regrettable environmental impact caused by this incident.”
A spokesperson told ELN: “We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and have since reviewed our process and procedures to minimise the risk of an incident like this happening in the future.”