Scottish Water was fined £6700 at Dundee Sheriff Court today after pleading guilty to an incident of water pollution in Fife in 2018, which saw hundreds of fish die.

At least 500 trout and salmon died when approximately 400 litres of a chemical coagulant were discharged into the River Eden in October 2018.

It's thought the number of fish in the area will take four or five years to return to pre-spill levels.

Today, the court heard that on 2 October 2018 at the Cupar Waste Water Treatment Works an operator punctured a large chemical container with the forks of a forklift truck while attempting to move it from storage and around 500 litres leaked out onto the forecourt of the works.

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The operator managed to turn the container over in an attempt to prevent further spill and moved the ruptured container to an unbunded corner of the site.

An attempt was made to clean up the spill by hosing and mopping the chemical spill into nearby surface water drains which discharge into the River Eden.

The chemical also leaked from the spill site to the rear of the works and entered the river in several locations. Additionally, the punctured container left in the unbunded area spilled further toward a water drain.

SEPA were alerted later that day when members of the public reported dead fish in the river.

Most of the fish killed were brown trout but there were also salmon and sea trout.

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Officers inspected the site and identified where the chemical had entered the River Eden.

During the subsequent investigation SEPA found there was a lack of knowledge among Scottish Water employees regarding the harmful effects of the chemical and the importance of preventing it from entering the water environment.

They also said there was also a lack of training around chemical handling, with site staff found to be not appropriately trained in emergency spill response and unaware that the surface water drains on site discharged into the river.

The incident had serious financial consequences for the local angling club and is likely to have an impact on salmon and trout numbers for four or five years.

The company pled guilty to a charge under section 20(3)(a) of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003.

Fiona Caldwell, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment, said the damage was "already done" by the time the incident was brought to the attention of SEPA.

She added: "It was entirely avoidable. Scottish Water failed to provide adequate training in relation to the chemicals used, their handling or appropriate spill training.

"That failure, the resultant damage to the environment and the impact on the local community, is unacceptable."

“The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service takes a rigorous approach to environmental crime and we are committed to taking effective and appropriate prosecutorial action.”