Thames Water has been fined £380,000 after pollution from a sewage treatment works entered a stream within an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The utility giant was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court over the incident that saw sewage enter Horsenden Stream in Buckinghamshire.
The Environment Agency said Thames Water breached its site permit for the Princess Risborough sewage treatment works “several times” between February and July 2013. One Agency officer described seeing the worst sewage fungus he had ever seen in a stream.
“The inlet screens, designed to prevent debris from entering the works and causing blockages, were not working and the storm tank pump was broken,” said the Agency in a statement. “The site’s storm weir was also set too low which meant that discharges were happening when the effluent should have been passing through the works for treatment.”
A spokeswoman for Thames Water said: “We take our responsibilities to the environment extremely seriously and very much regret the incidents in 2013.
“We have since made a number of changes at Princes Risborough sewage works to further improve resilience and protect the Horsenden Stream.
“This has included raising the level of the storm weir to prevent unnecessary discharge into the stream and restructuring how the site is managed to ensure it is better maintained.”
The company was also ordered to pay costs of £23,092.64 and a victim surcharge of £120.