Chesterton-based Ibstock Brick fined £27k for polluting Silverdale Brook

A BRICK manufacturer has been hit with a £27,000 fine after polluting a stream with contaminated quarry water.

Ibstock Brick inadvertently pumped the polluted water from Gorsty Quarry at Knutton into Silverdale Brook when equipment failed. But the problem was discovered before the pollution reached the River Trent where it could have had a devastating impact on wildlife.

Stafford Magistrates Court heard the Chesterton-based company is allowed to pump excess water into the brook to discourage swimming at the quarry.

However, when tests were carried out it was found there were 10,600 mg of ‘suspended solids’ in every one litre of water along the 3.5km stretch – 212 times higher than the 50mg permitted.

Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Christopher Badger, told the court: “The condition had been drawn up to limit the impact the discharge would have to improve the quality of this watercourse.

“Officers were informed that some equipment had failed and samples were taken. A total of 10,600 mg per litre of suspended solids were found by the pipe and 65 mg per litre was found 3.5 km down stream – a clear breach.

“The environmental damage was limited, there was no dead fish as they don’t spawn until the spring time. But if the pollution had gone further it ultimately would have gone into the River Trent.

“It was the early intervention of the Environment Agency that meant the impact was limited but it was still significant.”

The court heard staff discovered the water in the brook was discoloured at around 6am on August 14.

Mr Badger added: “It had been pumped into the stream the night before. There was an undeniable reduction in the water quality.”

Ibstock Brick – which recently hit the headlines following a visit from Mayor of London Boris Johnson – admitted failing to comply with an environmental permit condition.

Stuart Ponting, mitigating, said: “There was a system in place which at the time appeared to be adequate but in hindsight there were some shortcomings.

“On the day in question it appears the monitoring equipment had failed. A 90-second self-clean cycle was started but was not completed.

 “This has never happened before and unbeknown to us, the pump used to discharge the water continued to operate.

“There has been a breach but it was a breach that appears to have arisen in the context that the system wasn’t fool-proof.”

Magistrates ordered the firm to pay a £27,000 fine and £6,000 costs.

The Sentinel 6th November 2014