River Nene chemical spill company fined

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Media captionFishing boats were banned from The Wash for 24 hours

A firm has been fined £50,000 after pesticides leaked into a Cambridgeshire river, wiping out thousands of fish.

Safapac, of Orton Southgate, had previously admitted responsibility for the pollution in the River Nene.

It happened last June after vandals turned on the taps from storage tanks, but Peterborough Crown Court heard the incident could have been prevented if the chemicals had been stored securely.

About 5,000 litres of pesticides entered the waterway.

Prosecutor Mark Watson told the court: "Bulk containers containing the chemicals were stored in external bunkers near to the road.

"There was no bunding (dike or barrier) and no secondary containment in case of spills," he said.

"There was an open drain in the storage area and another just outside."

'River's worst pollution'

At the time, the Environment Agency said 100% of invertebrates, including pond skaters, water shrimps, water snails, leeches, and mayflies, that were close to the source of the chemical spill had died.

Further down the river about 80% of creatures vital to the food chain were affected, it said.

An estimated 4,000 fish also died.

Peterborough fisherman and tackle shop owner Ken Wade described the chemical spill as "probably the worst pollution the Nene has ever seen" in what were "prime fishing waters".

"The river looks fine now, but unfortunately the damage has been done. It had a tremendous impact on local angling and the river itself," he said.

After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Adam Shamma said: "This case should serve as a reminder to companies who handle chemicals to ensure their storage arrangements are adequate.

"Safapac would have prevented this incident if their chemicals had been stored in a secure area."

The chemicals company, which is based near Peterborough, was also ordered to pay £42,000 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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