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Environmental brief ~ UK Environment Agency guilty of water pollution

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's environmental law news, the UK Environment Agency [official website] has been found guilty of polluting the waters of the Barle River, a tributary of the Exe in Devon. The pollution consisted of hazardous chemicals from cement waste that was allowed to flow into the river. The Environment Agency had contracted for the construction of a flow-monitoring station on the river, and it was during its construction that the pollution occurred. The pollution led to the deaths of hundreds of salmon and trout. The case was brought under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act of 1975 by a private landowner with fishing rights downstream from the waste flow. The Exeter Crown Court will determine the appropriate penalty next month. This is the first time that the Environment Agency itself has been found guilty of water pollution. The London Telegraph has more.

In other environmental law news...

  • Jim Anderton [official website], head of New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture [official website], has announced that the government is planning to take control of all New Zealand freshwater resources [official backgrounder] within the next year. Regional councils are currently responsible for administering how water rights are controlled and the rules vary around the country. Options for the national plan include tradeable water rights and the metering of all water users. The action is being proposed due to continued arid conditions in some parts of the country and pollution problems in others. The Manawatu Standard has more.

  • Kinder Morgan [corporate website], a Texas-based energy company, agreed [press release] Monday to settle with the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration [official website] for problems caused by its Pacific network of petroleum pipelines [corporate asset map]. The company will spend US$90 million over the next five years to improve its 3,900 miles of oil pipelines in the region. Problems with the pipelines include 44 spills and ruptures since 2001, including a 2004 explosion [Contra Costa Times report] in Walnut Creek, California that killed five construction workers. The Contra Costa Times has more.

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