£6700 fine for firm which polluted River Eden leading to death of at least 500 fish

Scottish Water has been fined £6700 for polluting the River Eden leading to the death of at least 500 trout and salmon.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:56 pm

Approximately 400 litres of a chemical coagulant were discharged into the river in October 2018 resulting in the death of at least .

At Dundee Sheriff Court today, the company pleaded guilty to a charge under section 20(3)(a) of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003.

The court heard that at the Cupar Waste Water Treatment Works an operator punctured a large chemical container with the forks of a forklift truck while attempting to move it from storage, and around 500 litres leaked out onto the forecourt of the works.

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The River Eden

The operator managed to turn the container over in an attempt to prevent further spill and moved the ruptured container to an unbunded corner of the site.

An attempt was made to clean up the spill by hosing and mopping the chemical spill into nearby surface water drains which discharge into the River Eden.

The chemical also leaked from the spill site to the rear of the works and entered the river in several locations.

Additionally, the punctured container left in the unbunded area spilled further toward a water drain.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was alerted later that day when members of the public reported dead fish in the river.

During the investigation SEPA found there was a lack of knowledge among Scottish Water employees regarding the harmful effects of the chemical and the importance of preventing it from entering the water environment.

There was also a lack of training around chemical handling.

Most of the fish killed were brown trout but there were also salmon and sea trout.

The incident had serious financial consequences for the local angling club and is likely to have an impact on salmon and trout numbers for four or five years.

Fiona Caldwell, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment, said: "It was entirely avoidable. Scottish Water failed to provide adequate training in relation to the chemicals used, their handling or appropriate spill training.

"That failure, the resultant damage to the environment and the impact on the local community, is unacceptable."

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