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Cumbria's water company has apologised for spilling sewage into a Keswick beck when a pumping station failed to start-up.
United Utilities appeared before Workington Magistrates today, Thursday November 24 following a summons brought by the Environment Agency.
The firm pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the spillage of sewage effluent into Pow Beck and a nearby ditch at Portinscale, contrary to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Both offences happened between Boxing Day 2010 and January 8 2011.
Magistrates fined the firm £27,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £1,702 plus a victim charge of £15.
The court heard that an ultrasonic detection unit had failed at Portinscale Pumping Station, meaning that the on-site pumps did not switch on when they should. It was during the extreme cold weather last Christmas.
Speaking after the hearing, a company spokesman said staff had co-operated fully with the Environment Agency during their investigations into what happened and no evidence was presented to the court that any environmental harm had resulted.
"We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously so we are very sorry about what happened at Portinscale. As soon as our operational teams realised what had happened they quickly cleaned the area up. The problem was that an ultrasonic detection unit had failed. To make sure it doesn't happen again, we have replaced them with pulsar units and high level probes, both with their own power supply. We have also improved our alarm and response systems," she said.