Fothergill Engineered Fabrics, the Littleborough-based manufacturer of woven and knitted high-performance textiles, has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,552 for allowing chemical effluent to leak into Ealees Brook, which caused the death of more than 300 fish.
Fothergill pleaded guilty, at Rochdale Magistrates Court, to the offence of causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters. The pollution occurred in May 2008, when a pump failure caused effluent containing chemicals to overflow into the Brook. More than 300 fish were killed in the incident as well as invertebrates, such as worms, beetles and snails.
The court heard that the Environment Agency was alerted to the incident by a number of reports from members of the public, who had noticed signs of pollution and dead fish in the Brook.
The company informed the Environment Agency that it believed the effluent, containing hydrochloric acid and chloride, had overflowed into the Brook over a period of approximately one hour during the early hours of the morning on 31 May 2008. The incident affected a 1km stretch of Ealees Brook, and 0.5km of the River Roch.
Since the incident, Fothergill has worked with the Environment Agency to ensure it has adequate pollution-prevention measures and procedures in place to reduce the risk of any future leaks.
Gordon Whitaker, environment manager, said: ‘This incident highlights the importance of investing in pollution-prevention measures to minimise the environmental risk posed by any company’s activities.’