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Cornwall: Dairy Giant Fined Record £1.5m For Dumping Illegal Levels Of Sewage Into River

Cornwall: Dairy Giant Fined Record £1.5m For Dumping Illegal Levels Of Sewage Into River

One of Britain’s biggest dairy companies has admitted dumping illegal amounts of foul-smelling sewage into a Cornish river, killing thousands of fish with a powerful chemical, and devastating the local eco-system.

Dairy Crest, which was fined over £1.5m, breached permit conditions allowing it to discharge wastewater from its Davidstow Creamery in north Cornwall, where popular cheese Cathedral City is made.

A strong biocide used to clean sewage tanks and pipework was released into the River Inny, which flows into the River Tamar, killing thousands of fish over a 2km (1.2 mile) stretch of water in August 2016.

A 5km (three mile) section of the Inny was also left coated in black sludge two years later.

Overpowering odours from “foul discharge” left people living nearby unable to leave their homes, Truro Crown Court heard.

The breaches took place over a five-year period from 2016, despite the site having its own wastewater treatment facility.

Employees responsible for the wastewater facility felt “bullied and intimidated” by their line manager, the court was told.

The Davidstow Creamery, which operates round-the-clock, seven days a week, processes 1.3 million litres of milk from 370 dairy farms daily.

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The site struggled to cope with volumes of liquid waste – known as effluent – when it expanded its operations in 2014 to house a plant for probiotic dairy products.

At the time it was operated by Dairy Crest – now known as Saputo Dairy UK, which made £21m profit last year.

The company – which says it is the largest employer in North Cornwall – admitted 21 offences related to pollution and odour incidents at Truro Crown Court in December.

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