Dirty deeds

Published: Friday 31 March 2000

the Thames Water company was fined us $403,400 by a London court for allowing millions of litres of raw sewage and industrial chemicals to flow into the Thames before diverting it into family homes.

Ten families in Erith, Kent, were evacuated as their houses were flooded with sludge in November 1998. Many of the men, women and young children had to be treated for acute short-term symptoms associated with the chemicals. Although none suffered long-term physical effects, they had to abandon their homes since.

Eight of the houses have since been bought by Thames Water and are being refurbished. The former occupants, some of whom have options to buy back their apartments once renovations are complete, are living in rented accommodation paid for by the company.

The company pleaded guilty to the charges at Bexley magistrates' court recently but the magistrates committed the case to Croydon Crown Court for sentencing. The company was fined us $322,720 for disposing of waste in a manner likely to cause harm to human health and us $80,680 for polluting the Thames.

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