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River Ellen Anglers Obtain Compensation for Pollution

18.08.11

Dead Fish of Up To 12lbs

Three Cumbrian angling clubs have received compensation from the First Milk and Cheese Company Limited ("First Milk") after chemicals spilled out of its Aspatria creamery in June 2008. The clubs were represented by Fish Legal, the legal arm of the Angling Trust, who claimed damages on their behalf.

Pollution Entering Drain and Waxy Residue In Drain

Pollution Entering Drain and Waxy Residue In Drain

The pollution - which caused the death of thousands of wild fish including salmon and trout - occurred when chemicals were accidentally released from tanks at First Milk's cheese factory and into the river Ellen via an on-site surface water drain.

First Milk was apparently unaware that they had been storing chemical waste next to an open drain that would allow the chemical to end up in the river.

The Environment Agency's staff attended to see dead fish floating over 4km of the river. The fish kill had, according to their statements, resulted " in an almost complete fish kill" in downstream sections. Officers recalled that dead juvenile fish "were too many to collect...". Adult fish of up to 12 lbs were also found dead in the river.

Dead Fish of Up To 12lbs

Dead juvenile fish and adult fish of up to 12 lbs were found dead in the river

Independent aquatic scientists instructed in 2010 by Fish Legal concluded that the river would still take several years more to fully recover.

First Milk were prosecuted by the Environment Agency for this incident but denied civil liability for damage caused to the angling clubs' polluted fisheries.

The claim made by the angling clubs was expected to go all the way to trial but finally settled following protracted negotiation.

Will RundleWilliam Rundle, Solicitor at Fish Legal commented:
"This has been a long running and difficult case mainly on account of a poor investigation by the Environment Agency that did not clearly establish the full impact of the pollution. Nevertheless, we have persevered and I am pleased that Fish Legal was able to agree a very substantial settlement for its member clubs. Now that compensation has finally been paid over they can look to restoring the river that was so badly affected by the pollution."

Notes to Editors:
1. Fish Legal operates throughout the UK and is backed by thousands of supporters. Fish Legal acts as the legal arm of the Angling Trust in England.

2. Angling clubs or fishery owners wishing to join Angling Trust & Fish Legal and individuals wishing to become members or make a donation can do so on this website HERE or by calling 0844 7700616 during office hours or by writing to the address below.

3. The chemical pollution occurred on or about 29th June 2008. As well as wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon other species killed included eels, minnows, stone loach and stickleback.

4. First Milk were successfully prosecuted by the Environment Agency and fined £12,000 on 2nd July 2009 under S85 of the Water Resources Act.

5. The Aspatria Creamery has a history of pollution. In 1989 hydrochloric acid spilled into the Ellen from the site when it was owned by Dairy Crest. In 1994 some 6000 litres of caustic soda also discharged into the river. Each discharge was via a surface water drain flowing into the Ellen. First Milk purchased the site in 2006.

6. The River Ellen rises on the high ground at the back of Skiddaw and meanders through Blennerhasset, Aspatria and Dearham before finally entering the sea at Maryport harbour.

7. Photographs: This web page contains Environment Agency information © Environment Agency and database right.

Contacts:
For more information on Angling Trust & Fish Legal, please look around this website or write to: Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ or call 0844 7700616.

Out of hours press enquiries, Mark Lloyd 07973 468198 or mark.lloyd@anglingtrust.net

Contact: Angling Trust Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ
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