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The pumps at Surbiton, south-west London, failed but the utility company ignored almost 50 warning alarms after midnight on February 8. Around 17 million gallons of foul sludge escaped from a manhole and spread over Green Lane recreation ground in nearby New Malden and into Hogsmill River – a crucial habitat for fish and wildlife. Enough toilet paper to fill 2,500 rubbish bags was recovered during the month-long clean-up, the Environment Agency said.
At Aylesbury Crown Court Thames Water admitted depositing sewage waste.
The court also took into account other incidents in January and October 2018, and September 2019. Fines levied on Thames Water since 2017 total £28.4million for 10 cases of water pollution.
Gary Waddup, of the Environment Agency, said: “This incident shows Thames Water and the industry have a lot more to do.”
Steve Spencer, the utility’s operations director, apologised and said it had a “turnaround plan” to safeguard the environment.
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