Anglian Water fined £18,000 after sewage seeped into Yaxley river

Roach, pike and eel were among 60 dead fish recovered from the scene

By Stephen Briggs
Friday, 6th May 2022, 5:00 am

Anglian Water has been fined £18,000 after sewage seeped into a river, killing dozens of fish

The company was fined for failures at a pumping station near Peterborough that an investigation said showed up their “reactive attitude” to pollution.

District Judge Ken Sheraton said Anglian Water should have given “a higher category of response” to a second sewage pump failing because the site at Yaxley was operating at a lower capacity with one pump already out of order.

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Anglian Water have been fined £18,000 after sewage seeped into a river, killing dozens of fish

The two pumps meant to regulate the flow of sewage had stopped working a week apart, meaning raw sewage poured into Pig Water Drain for several hours and the damage was done before an engineer arrived at the pumping station in Windsor Road.

Investigators from the Environment Agency said at least 60 fish died during the incident in February 2019. The final death toll was believed to be higher, with fish killed by reduced oxygen and toxic ammonia in the water.

A dog-walker reported a creamy substance on the surface of the water. The woman said she saw fish leaping from the water like they’d been electrocuted or attacked.

Louis de Quincey, who led the Environment Agency investigation, said: “With only one sewage pump in operation, this was always likely to increase the chances of an incident. Anglian Water should have sped up its response time as a result. Six hours passed before a technician stopped sewage entering the water.

“Anglian Water could and should have acted quicker.”

An Environment Agency officer called to the scene saw effluent gushing into the “grey and murky” water from a pipe traced back to the pumping station, supposed to control the flow of sewage through the sewer network.

Not only did one pump stop working that day, a second had been out of action for almost a week. One Anglian Water employee told a technician there was nothing wrong, that no sewage was being pumped into the river.

Judge Sheraton also ordered Anglian Water to pay £10,957.80 in costs to the Environment Agency and a victim surcharge of £170.