River Avon oil spill costs company over £31,500



Yesterday (Thursday 7 July 2011), at Worcester Magistrates Court, Dawn Foods Limited pleaded guilty to two charges that resulted in the pollution of the River Avon in June 2010.

Dawn Foods Limited, the manufacturers of baked goods, based in Worcestershire, were fined £23,500 and ordered to pay £7,950 in costs.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 and Control of Pollution (Oil storage) Regulations 2001.

On 6 June 2010, Environment Agency officers attended a report of oil on the River Avon near to Sankey Marina, Evesham. Oil was present in large patches across the width of the river which was between 30 and 35 metres wide. The Environment Agency placed a pollution control boom on the river in order to collect and contain the spill. Investigations confirmed that Dawn Foods Ltd were the source of vegetable oil (rapeseed oil) entering the watercourse.

Dawn Foods Limited reported a spill of approximately 5,000 litres of rapeseed oil at their premises at Worcester Road to the Environment Agency. They indicated that a bund in place around the oil tank had not contained the leak. As a result, approximately 800 litres entered the River Avon. Upon investigation, Environment Agency officers noted that the oil had escaped from a storage tank via a flexible pipe, fixed in place with a jubilee clip, which had become detached. The use of a jubilee clip is not an industry recognised practice. The oil had leaked into company’s surface water drains and discharged into the surface sewer and ultimately into the River Avon.

Up to two miles of the River Avon was affected by the oil slick between the premises of Dawn Foods Limited and Fladbury. Two swans and a duck had to be removed and treated by Bishopswood Swan Rescue for oil contamination. The duck was so badly oiled it couldn’t fly.

A representative of Dawn Foods Ltd attended formal interview under caution on 16 July 2010. They company admitted that that the oil in the river was their vegetable oil from their storage tank.

In passing sentence, the Court took into account the fact that the company had no previous convictions, they cooperated fully with the Environment Agency, they had borne the clean up costs and had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency spokesperson said "This incident could have been avoided if the company had properly considered the environmental risks associated with their business activities. Dawn Foods Limited had poor knowledge of their own site drainage. They did not have a plan of what to do in the event of a spillage at the site and unfortunately this resulted in the pollution incident and today’s court appearance.”

Businesses need to be aware of the potential costs to the environment, their finances and reputation should a pollution incident such as this occur. Having an Accident or Pollution Incident Management Plan detailing the actions to be taken in such circumstances, will help to minimise impact of the environment.

To help businesses avoid and deal with pollution incidents, the Environment Agency has a range of advice and guidance on their website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/pollution/32252.aspx

Members of the public are asked to report pollution incidents, or sightings of dead/struggling fish in their local watercourse, to the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

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Review of the Hydropower Good Practice Guidelines

The Environment Agency have started a consultation into the current Hydropower Good Practice Guidelines published in 2009.
The document has been produced by the Environment Agency with the support of the Hydropower Working Group. The Group brings together key representatives from interest groups and partners to secure the delivery of hydropower across England and Wales in an environmentally sustainable way.
The new consultation can be found here
Existing Guildlines can be found here
Closing date for submissions is 23/09/2011
Information on all Thames Hydropower projects, Anglers and Hydropower
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Why London needs the Tideway Tunnel

Today has seen the release of a comprehensive report by Thames Water into the reasons why London needs the Thames Tunnel or 'Super Sewer' as it is called.

The report lays in out full the fact why the tunnel is crucial and the impact raw sewage overflows have on the river. There are on average in excess of 60 significant sewerage incidents a year and are becoming more frequent. With longer drier periods followed by heavy rainfall, the situation can only get worse.
On the 6th June 2011 the Tidal Thames saw the biggest sewage overflow in nearly a decade and the Environment Agency suggests more than 26000 fish may have been killed. Following a sustained dry period, the capital saw around 30 mm of rain fall causing the Combined Sewage Overflows to discharge nearly half a million tonnes of untreated effluent into the river causing oxygen levels to fall. Thames Anglers Consevancy members arrived at the river to find thousands of fish gasping for air and the foreshore littered with the remains of many aquatic species. Little was spared the devastation from this single incident.
The crash of dissolved oxygen levels was further exacerbated by the discharge being at low tide and little natural flow coming over Teddington Weir.
Since the 6th June there have been a further five discharges of sewage into the Tidal Thames, one on the 16th June, an irony not lost on many as the start of the traditional fishing season.
Thames Anglers Conservancy spokesman said:
'We welcome today's report from Thames Water as it highlights many reasons why the Tunnel must be built without delay. In a modern capital city it is unacceptable that raw sewage is still put into the Thames creating a serious health hazard for all river users and severely impacting fish stocks and all aquatic life. With the ongoing threat of Thames Hydropower schemes further reducing the natural flow, action is needed now. We would like to thank the Environment Agency fisheries team for their action during the recent incident and since.'

Notice to editors:

The Thames Anglers Conservancy is a free to join organization and is a consultative member of the Angling Trust for Thames between Staines and Dartford.
As a Thames Angling stakeholder, we are involved with many organizations including the Environment Agency, river user groups and local councils.
We are concerned with many aspects of the Thames including the threat of Hydropower, loss of fishing rights and pollution along with the positive aspects of promoting angling and its benefits.
For more information go to www.rivertac.org or email admin@rivertac.org
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Environment Agency Fish rescue in drought

EA Press Release 29-Jun-2011
Hundreds of fish are being removed from a Lincolnshire river as the drought continues despite recent spells of rainfall.
The Environment Agency will be relocating the fish from the Upper River Slea, which is currently experiencing low water levels as a result of the drought.
Fish will be removed from a stretch of river between Cogglesford Mill downstream to Bone Mill Bridge, near to the A17 bypass. An area of the Upper Slea close to the South Kyme is also being closely monitored so action can be taken immediately if dissolved oxygen levels drop.
As well as protecting fish in the Upper Slea, the Environment Agency is also currently working to maintain water levels through the town of Sleaford itself via its Slea Augmentation Scheme – which was switched on 20 May. Cogglesford Mill is at the end of the length of river that benefits from the Slea river support scheme.
Reuben Page, Fisheries, Recreation and Biodiversity Technical Officer, said: “Water levels on this stretch of the River Slea are very low at the moment and although the fish are not currently in distress, we are acting now to prevent potential problems. The river has dried up downstream of Cogglesford Mill during previous drought periods so taking this action now is a sensible precaution.
“It’s important we intervene as early as possible to minimise the impact of low water levels and low dissolved oxygen levels and we are continuing to urge anyone who sees fish that may be in distress to contact us.”
Species of fish that will be removed from the river include chub, dace, roach, pike, perch and trout.
They will be caught by electro-fishing, a technique that temporarily stuns fish and allows them to be netted and transferred to a transport tank. Once water levels in the Slea return to normal, Environment Agency officers will restock as necessary.
The fish are being relocated from the River Slea today.
Anyone who sees fish they believe may be in distress as a result of low water levels or pollution,  should contact the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
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TAC Desborough Island Clean up

Volunteers from the Thames Anglers Conservancy gave up a few hours on the hottest Sunday of the year to help clean up an area at Walton.
Desborough Island is high up on a list of regular areas that the TAC visit, there is a major rubbish problem during the summer.
Volunteers walked the entire reach pulling out all manner of rubbish whilst at the same time engaging with members of the public and anglers alike.
The final result was they collected a duvet, a beanbag, a large boat cushion, a coat, large Elmbridge council plastic banner, an 8ft x 3tf felt and plywood roof, an estate agents sign, plastic piping, a metal basket, nine bin bags filled with litter and more.
Hot but smiling, thanks for your efforts.
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100 per cent success for EA rod licence checks

Last week, Midlands Fishery Enforcement Officers took to the River Avon in a canoe to check rod licences.
The patrol along the River Avon at Pershore marked the opening of the new coarse fishing season on rivers. Officers checked 30 licences along the River Avon and were pleased to report back that all 30 anglers had valid licences with them.
Team Leader Al Watson said "This method enables us to cover both banks at once. Foot patrols cover one bank at a time. In the time taken to cross to the other bank an offender can be packed up and gone. On this occasion, all anglers had a valid licence with them, but this is not always the case.”
Anglers are reminded to make sure that they have a valid rod licence before they go fishing. Costs are held at last years prices (£27 per adult for a full year) and are available from Post Offices, on-line at our website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or by telephone (0844 800 5386).
Reports of poachers' set-lines and traps have been on the increase. "The canoe gets us up-close to the vegetation to spot set-lines that are almost impossible to detect from the bank" said Al. "Anybody who notices suspicious activity should call us immediately on 0800 807060 and give us as much information as possible. A good report gives us a much greater chance of catching poachers". 
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Kids enjoy a first taste of Thames Fishing

After a wet start to the opening of the river season, TAC volunteers were praying to Izaak that Sunday would be dry for their free to all,  'Celebration of the river season opening event' at Walton riverside.
Three qualified coaches supplied by the Environment Agency spent the day teaching 96 youngsters how to start fishing. All 96 youngsters caught fish and each youngster was given a fishing kit to take home with them and a discount voucher for the local tackle shops. Esher Angling, Fishing Unlimited, Surbiton Angling Centre and Walton Tackle Exchange.
The Environment Agency also supplied a fish holding tank, which together with a couple of our own, enabled us to display Roach, Dace and Bleak in one. Perch in another and a solitary Bullhead in the third. All the fish were caught in the morning by the volunteers, and safely released at the end of the day.
Advice and more detailed instruction was given on float fishing and lure fishing to those wanting to improve their skills were many amongst the four hundred or so that attended the event.
Les Webbers Angling Projects was on hand, to explain the hugely successful work his organisation does with disadvantaged youngsters and comunnity groups. They get to stay for several days and nights, free of charge at his purpose built centre and get involved with hands on activities such as path building, classroom activities and of course fishing.
Thames Water, to many anglers the nemesis, were present with their Tideway Tunnel Roadshow. After 30 years of poisoning our River Thames, they now want to stop. All the ' super sewer' information was on show and their representatives answered enquiries and questions.
TAC President Keith Arthur came along and passed on some his guidance to the juniors.
A Falconry Club were kind enough to bring four of their birds along. They were on their perches all day long, enthralling all and sundry with the occasional excursion to an admirers arm, for a picture to be taken. Just like in the fish world it seems these apex predators are the most delicate, and the best at capturing the attention.
Not only the juniors had a go
A day when the rain stayed away, 96 new anglers were born, Les Webbers Angling Projects spread their message to new ears, Danny and his Falcons enthralled, and Thames Water learned the strength of feeling that abounds.
Thanks to everyone who helped, giving up their time for free to make it a very enjoyable event.
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Thames Anglers Conservancy at Penton Hook

Following the Environment Agency news release about the Thames Anglers Conservancy at Penton Hook, here is our most recent report. We have built up an excellent relationship with the EA fisheries team and look forward to it growing further.
14/05/2011 .Thames Anglers Conservancy volunteers including juniors, under the guidance of the Environment Agency Fisheries Team, are carrying a series of ongoing long term projects around Penton Hook Island.
The first project was to try to increase the flow through the important spawning channel that runs through the island. The flow had been reduced overtime by an accumulation of floating and sub subsurface debris from the main river. In areas silt had built up so creating less favourable habitat for fish to spawn.
The maintenance of the channel is ongoing to ensure it remains as the best habitat possible for fish, with regular clean ups of the main sluice. Work on any part where the gravels are will be left until later in the year, when it can be certain that the wildlife will not be affected and the flora are fauna is dying back.
The initial task was to remove branches and other detritus from the sluice gate, so to let more water flow down.
In clearing the sluice it raised the level of the channel by around three inches and created more flow, this in turn starting wash through the silt.
Further along more issues where vegetation had built up hence reducing the flow. Volunteers carefully removed any obstructions along the entire length.
An increase in flow and clarity farther downstream improving spawning grounds.
More clean gravel where Chub have been spotted moving up through, a great sign for the health of the stream.
In addition to the spawning channel, the Thames Anglers Conservancy are clearing the wood left by tree surgeons where it has blocked small paths and covered over areas of wild plants.
The larger logs are being piled to create Beetle Stacks which encourage all manner of insects and small animals to a safe haven and natural environment.


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Penton Hook Island springs into summer

Environment Agency 16th June 2011

Penton Hook Island springs into summer

Penton Hook Lock island on the river Thames has been given a spring clean courtesy of  local volunteers from the Thames Anglers' Conservancy (TAC).
Under the guidance of the Environment Agency Fisheries Team, volunteers of all ages from TAC have undertaken a series of work parties to improve  habitats for breeding fish and other wildlife on the island.
The work they have been doing builds upon an existing Environment Agency scheme which created a fish 'by-pass' channel on the island. As well as providing valuable gravels for fish to spawn on, the channel enables fish to migrate upstream past Penton Hook Lock where they can complete their lifecycle.
During the autumn and winter months the entrance to the spawning channel can become blocked with debris carried down from the main river. The prolific growth of vegetation can also restrict flows in the channel itself, all of which can prevent fish from entering it or accessing breeding grounds.
Volunteers carefully removed any obstructions at the entrance of the channel and trimmed foliage along its length. To prevent any detriment to wildlife, the work was carried out before the fish spawning period in the channel and before the bird nesting season.
Area Fisheries Officer, George Gerring, said:
"The work TAC have been doing has greatly improved the bypass channel and will enable fish to successfully breed – preserving Thames fish stocks for future generations"
Since undertaking the work the flow in the channel has significantly improved. More clean gravels can now be seen and Chub and other fish and even Kingfishers have been spotted moving up through the channel. This is a great sign for the health of the stream and wildlife on the island.
Further planned work to import more gravels into the channel will be left until later in the year when it can be certain that the wildlife will not be affected and the flora is naturally dying back.
TAC volunteers have also been helping to clean areas for anglers to fish in the forthcoming fishing season. The larger logs found have been piled up to create Beetle stacks which provide a safe haven for a variety of insects and small animals.
If you would like to help out with any of the working parties or are interested in joining the TAC please visit their website at http://www.rivertac.org/site/
Please remember if you want to fish on the island from June 16th you will need to be in possession of a valid Environment Agency rod licence and Lock & Weir Permit.
Notes to Editors
Photographs available from press office
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Tideway Tunnel presentation at the Richmond Environmental Information Centre AGM

Thursday 16th June was the Annual General Meeting of the Richmond Environmental Information Centre (REIC). The event was held at the friendly and welcoming River Thames Visitor Centre near Richmond bridge.
Presenting for Thames Water was senior project manager Malcolm Orford accompanied by John Sweetnam.
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is one of the biggest engineering projects in the UK and is being built to stop the average 39 million tonnes of sewage that is put into the river each year.
The major fish kills and damage to the ecology are a very serious problem as demonstrated on June 6th 2011 when as many as 20,000 fish may have died. Not only do the fish suffer but all other aquatic life. The river becomes a virtual no go area for all recreational users and poses a serious health hazard. The sewage overflow causes the Dissolved Oxygen levels to fall very rapidly starving the river. As little as 2mm of rain can cause a sewage overflow, 5-6th June there was 25mm of rain.
A combined sewage overflow

Malcolm's presentation covered from past history where Sir Joseph Bazalgette designed and had built London's sewerage system following the Great Stink in 1858. As London has grown and the once green spaces are now filled with concrete, the population has expanded, the system is beyond its limit.
The talk included what alternatives have been looked at, the work of the Environment Agency in assessing which of the 57 Combined Sewage Overflows (CSO's) that pollute the Thames had to be intercepted, construction, logistics, current opposition and much more.
Questions from the audience was taken at the end including the Mayor of Richmond Clare Head.
The AGM of the REIC followed the talk in a very enjoyable evening.


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