Struggling Thames Water fined $4 million by UK court

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest water supplier Thames Water has been fined 3.3 million pounds ($4.2 million) by a UK court after it pleaded guilty to polluting rivers in 2017, the heavily indebted group said on Tuesday.

The company has been sanctioned several times in recent years for missing targets and pollution incidents, including a record 20 million pound fine in 2017 for pumping sewage into the River Thames, killing wildlife and causing sickness.

The utility, which is carrying 14 billion pounds in debt, said the fine related to an incident at its West Sussex site in southern England due to the running of a storm pump in error.

“We are deeply sorry for the entirely unacceptable pollution incident into the Gatwick Stream and River Mole six years ago,” the company’s interim co-CEO Cathryn Ross said in the statement. “We fully accept that we made significant errors and exercised poor judgment at the time.”

The British government has been mulling temporary state ownership of the company, which supplies a quarter of British households, if it cannot raise more funds to drive its turnaround.

The company has implemented better training for staff to improve responses to pollution incidents and upgraded its control systems on the site, the statement added.

($1 = 0.7869 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, writing by Muvija M; editing by Sarah Young)