A UK-based mining company, HM Project Developments, has been fined for water pollution that occurred in 2018. The company went into administration in 2020.
After the Environmental Agency launched an investigation, the court heard that a stretch of water 10–12km long was discoloured and polluted following operations beginning in October 2018. The Halton Lea Surface Mine was an open-cast coal mine.
Local community members protested against the opening of the mine. However, HM Project Developments had is application approved in 2012.
Prosecutors stated that the wastewater was not cleaned properly and was being discharged at a point not listed on the permit. During a three-day period following heavy rainfall, between 14 October and 16 October 2018, wastewater entered a local river via an unauthorised location.
HM Project Developments pleaded guilty on counts of contravening the requirements of an environmental permit and failing to comply with or contravene the environmental permitting notice following an investigation by the environment agency.
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Company director John Hornsby also admitted to two counts of contravening the requirements of an environmental permit. HM Project Developments was fined (£1,200) ($1,500) and is due to pay £1,000 as costs, while Hornsby was fined £360 and is due to pay £1,000 in costs.
“In October 2018, individuals were fishing in the area of Hartley Burn, in Haltwhistle, when it was noticed that the water was discoloured,” said prosecution lawyer Lee Fish, Chronicle Live reports. “This water runs from the mine. It was reported to the Environment Agency and it was confirmed that it was highly contaminated water that had entered Hartley Burn from the mine.”
The stretch of river was popular for fishing and was home to Atlantic salmon and sea trout.
Earlier this year, a Greenpeace report found that wastewater from a coal mine in Poland caused the death of 360 tonnes of fish. Its conclusions were supported by the EU.
The EU warned against “discharges of industrial wastewater with high salt content, for instance from mining activities” in waterways.