Fish died as the level of oxygen fell in Terrington Drain at
James Henry Clayton Flint who runs Bodgers Farm near Stowbridge was away on holiday when the pollution happened but had not left proper instructions with his farm contractor for the storage and spreading of the waste on his land.
The liquid waste formed pools on and around the farm track and then, by force of gravity, ran along the field into a farm ditch and then on into the Terrington drain, a tributary of the Common Lode drain.
Several dead fish were seen in the drain on 14 September and reported to the Environment Agency and together with Internal Drainage Board (IDB) staff, officers traced the source of the pollution to the farm.
As well as liquid running along the track, they also saw numerous heaps of rotting waste onions, carrots and potatoes lying around and frothy liquid waste stored in a large lagoon from which it was being pumped out.
A farm contractor switched off the pump and IDB staff dammed The Terrington Drain, and pumped polluted water back up into the upper section of the Drain. The Environment Agency also required
Water tests showed that the organic waste in the water had significantly lowered the level of oxygen resulting in the deaths of fish and invertebrates. A level of 0% dissolved oxygen was recorded in several places in Terrington Drain. Normal levels did not return to the water until early November.
The effect of the organic waste on the water’s oxygen levels was twice as damaging as untreated sewage would have been.
Environment Agency officer David Batterham told
The Environment Agency told magistrates that
As a result an unknown number of fish and aquatic organisms were killed.
Flint pleaded guilty to: On or about 15 September 2005 caused poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely the Terrington Drain a tributary of the Common Lode at Stowbridge, contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991
After the hearing Environment Agency officer Helen Blower said: ‘Organic liquid waste can be just as polluting as crude sewage because it uses up the dissolved oxygen in the water when it breaks down.
‘Businesses which use this type of waste need to make sure that it is stored and applied correctly and they are in control of it at all times, because it can be polluting in the wrong environment.
‘This case demonstrates exactly what can happen when that control is not maintained.’