EU Executive Takes Government To Court

For allowing raw sewage to spill into Thames

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The European Union is taking the British government to the European Court of Justice for failing to prevent thousands of tonnes of raw sewage spilling from storm water overflows into the Thames.

In a statement, the EU executive said that waste water spills "too frequently and in excessive quantities" into the river prompting their decision to take legal action because of threat to the health of river users and the marine environment. The UK is accused of breaching the 1991 urban waste water directive that requires treatment of sewage before discharge in order to have clean rivers, seas and lakes.

Sudden and heavy rainfalls like those we have seen in recent months fill the sewage network meaning that any overflow, including untreated sewage, spills directly into the Thames.

The European Court of Justice can order the government to take action under threat of daily fines however, the government believes that the country's water quality is 'at a consistently high level'.

EU Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said, "More attention needs to be paid to upgrading collecting systems to ensure full compliance with EU legislation on waste water treatment. Such investment will bring enormous benefits in terms of improving the quality of the environment."

In August Thames Water admitted that the dumping of almost a million tonnes of raw sewage into the Thames at Isleworth was "not an accident" and they have consent from the Environment Agency to discharge into the river at any time because the Thames Tideway is classified as open water and falls under the same laws as discharging waste into the English Channel.


October 10, 2009