Tesco has been ordered to pay more than £8 million in fines and costs after a fuel leak from one of its petrol stations polluted waterways and sewers.
The incident in July 2014 led to around 23,500 litres of petrol leaking from a filling tank in Haslingden.
According to the Environment Agency, fuel entered the sewerage system, with the odours affecting residents up to 1km away, causing people to seek medical attention with headaches and sickness.
It added the odours remained in the homes for a number of days.
Some of the fuel also entered Langwood Brook and the River Irwell, causing a “significant impact killing fish and other aquatic life.
Mark Easedale, an Environment Manager for the Environment Agency said: “This pollution incident had a dramatically negative impact on the local community and the environment with Langwood Brook and the River Irwell severely affected.
“The sentencing today sends out a clear message to anyone whose recklessness causes serious pollution to the environment – we will be relentless in our investigations and take action wherever needed.”
Tesco said it “sincerely regrets” the incident and apologised for the impact it had on the local environment, customers and the community.
A spokesperson added: “This was a deeply unfortunate isolated incident and one for which we have taken full responsibility. Following the incident, we have inspected all relevant petrol stations, introduced a new real-time monitoring system and made a number of further improvements to protect against similar incidents happening again.”