Firm Pleads Guilty To River Sirhowy Pollution

Environment Agency News Release

A BLACKWOOD business has pleaded guilty to polluting the River Sirhowy and killing more than 1,000 fish.

FKI Switchgear, part of Hawker Siddeley Switchgear, was prosecuted after trade waste entered the river in April this year.

The company pleaded guilty to two charges and was fined £4,000 under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, and £1,450 under the Water Resources Act, after the Environment Agency Wales brought the prosecution at Caerphilly Magistrates’ Court on September 24.

A member of the Rhymney and Sirhowy Flylife monitoring group reported the dead fish on Friday, April 27, with the pollution later being traced to the company.

FKI Switchgear was emptying and cleaning tanks on its site and washing the inside of a treatment plant. The wash water was then poured into a surface water drain which flowed directly into the Sirhowy.

The effluent was caustic and highly contaminated. It stripped oxygen from the water, affecting quality and biology, killing about 1,200 fish, mainly trout. About 2.5km of river downstream was affected.

After the case, EAW officer John Rock said: “This incident caused significant damage to local fish populations on the River Sirhowy.

“We hope this successful prosecution will make businesses and individuals aware of their responsibilities to comply with environmental regulations and to prevent water pollution.

“Many thousands of pollution incidents occur each year, originating from factories, farms, transport activities and even homes.

“Each incident is an offence and can result in prosecution and environmental damage.

“Most cases are avoidable if operations are planned properly and suitable facilities are arranged to reduce the risk of spillage.”