Restaurant fined over tandoori-red waste

Baby Elephant pollution
Baby Elephant pollution
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A POPULAR Indian Restaurant has been fined after pumping untreated leftovers into Wigan’s main river for 18 months.

Wigan magistrates heard an inquiry was launched after ramblers reported that the waters of the Douglas were running tandoori-red.

The Environment Agency traced the oil mess back to a malfunctioning private waste water plant at Gathurst’s Baby Elephant Indian eatery.

Environment inspectors found that the system continued regularly emptying quantities of chopped onion, mushroom and other food waste into the river over a year and a half.

Although not poisonous to fish, such organic waste can create aglae which sucks oxygen from the water, and in extreme circumstances can lead to fish suffocating

Restaurant boss Arash Ali, 37, from Rawtenstall, was given two 18-month conditional discharges, to run concurrently, after admitting causing noxious and polluting matter to enter controlled waters, and contravening an environmental permit allowing a discharge into the river.

The restaurant company was ordered to pay a total of £7,616 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to three counts of allowing polluting matter and waste to enter the Douglas, contravening an environmental permit, and failing to comply with the Secretary of State’s requirement of providing waste transfer notes.

The restaurant, described as popular in the community, is investing in a new sewage and waste water system that will cost at least £35,000.

Meanwhile, the existing plant will now be receiving maintenance contractor visits every fortnight.

Defence solicitor Katie Houghton attacked the owners of the building (which used to be the Navigation pub), Punch Tavern.

She insisted that the lease the restaurant owners had signed with Punch was one more suited to pubs, and made no provision for updating the type of waste water requirements the new use would require.

Miss Houghton told the bench: “Regrettably the landlord would have known that this system was old and of a limited capacity, and while it may have been satisfactory for its former use as a pub selling the odd sandwich or bar meal, it was always going to be unable to meet the needs of a restaurant.”

Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Mrs Nicola Watson said that the pub was turned into the Indian restaurant in 2007.

She pointed out that there was no sewer connection for the building, but it had consent to discharge water effluent into the Douglas within strict parameters which were then diluted into a harmless state by the body of water in the river, with solids removed by tanker.

But the existing “package” sewage plant at the restaurant was old and poorly maintained, and not of a sufficient standard for the restaurant’s long term use.

The hearing was told walkers called in the Environment Agency after seeing a deep red coloration on the surface of the river.

Analysis of the water issuing from its outfall showed the “oxygen demand” of the effluent to be 40 times the permitted level, and containing seven times the level of permitted solids.

Lee Quibell from the Environment Agency said; “Barbar Elephants Ltd, which operates the Baby Elephant restaurant, is responsible for causing pollution into the adjacent River Douglas.

“The sewage found in the river was orange/brown in colour and contained fat, oil and food that could have posed a threat to wildlife and the local environment.

“It occurred because untreated sewage from the restaurant was allowed to enter the river over a period of 18 months between March 2010 and October 2011.

“This could have been avoided if the business had acted on the advice given by The Environment Agency.

“This sentence reflects the seriousness of incidents of water pollution and the impact on water quality and surrounding area.”