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Water company fined record £2m for Kent beach pollution

An Environment Agency prosecution has resulted in a record water company fine after untreated sewage flowed onto beaches in Kent in 2012.

The pollution was caused by the failure of a pumping station at Foreness Point in Thanet following heavy storms. The pumping station was blocked by a large number of “unflushable” items, causing untreated and partially treated wastewater to be discharged out to sea. The discharge caused beaches on the Isle of Thanet to be closed for nine days due to public health concerns.

Julie Foley, the Environment Agency’s area manager said: "The failures to contain sewage resulted in risk to public health, polluted a considerable length of coastline, including numerous beaches, and resulted in a negative impact on Thanet. Damage was caused to the reputation of Thanet's designated bathing waters, bays and 'Blue Flag' beaches."

At the hearing in Maidstone, Southern Water admitted two charges of unauthorised releases of wastewater, Southern Water director Simon Oates said that £4m had been invested in the site since 2012 and the company had a £6m investment plan. Thanet's beaches now consistently achieved excellent bathing water status, he added.

The company was also fined £200,000 in 2013 following an authorised discharge from the same pumping station in 2011.

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