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Bakery handed £26k fine after dishwasher pollutes stream

A Natural Resources Wales (NRW) prosecution has seen a bakery fined for polluting a stream with its dishwasher.

Memory Lane Cakes Limited was fined £26,300 on 14 January 2022 at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to polluting Wedal Brook in Cardiff with wastewater from its bakery on Maes-y-Coed Road.

The company was also ordered to cover NRW’s costs of £13,000 and to pay a victim surcharge of £190.

NRW officers found the pollution entering the stream from a pipe connected to an industrial dishwasher at the site.

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The dishwasher had wrongly been connected to the surface water sewer, rather than the foul sewer. This caused 800 litres a day of dirty wash-waters, including butter, sugar, flour and egg, to flow into the stream.

The company has since fixed the wrong connection and now all its wastewater enters the foul sewer and is sent to a treatment plant.

NRW was made aware of the pollution in April 2019 by member of the public reporting sewage type smells at the stream in Heath Park.

Officers found 380 metres of the stream covered in sewage fungus, which had caused all the invertebrates along the stretch of the brook to die.

Sewage fungus is a hair-like bacterium that grows in response to pollution entering water. It kills invertebrates by smothering them or using up the oxygen they need to breathe.

Michael Evans, NRW’s Head of Operations South Wales Central, said: “Misconnected waste pipes can end up polluting Wales’ rivers, damaging the environment and harming local wildlife.

“By not ensuring its waste pipes were connected correctly, the wastewater from the Memory Land Cakes site polluted the Wedal Brook for a long time. This resulted in sewage fungus killing all life in the river for hundreds of metres downstream.

“We hope the outcome of this case clearly demonstrates that anyone polluting Wales’ rivers will be pursued through the courts if necessary and could face large fines due to their actions.

“We will continue our efforts to educate people and businesses about the impact misconnected pipes can have on the environment.”

A Memory Lane Cakes spokesperson said: "Memory Lane Cakes is committed to operating with integrity and care and takes its approach to waste management extremely seriously.

"We have accepted responsibility for and apologise for a mistake made in 2019 that led to a small amount of bakery waste from one of our tray washing machines making its way into to the mainline drain instead of being sent to our on-site trade effluent plant for processing."

The spokesperson added: "Working alongside Natural Resources Wales, as soon as the issue was identified an investigation was launched and the error was promptly corrected. We believe the level of harm to the environment caused by the incident was minimal.

"In order to ensure that an incident of this nature doesn’t occur again, Memory Lane Cakes has since introduced a number of further measures on site."

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