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Water Pollution Incidents

In England and Wales, if you become aware of a pollution incident or even a potential risk to the water environment, you should contact the Environment Agency immediately.

If they suspect a water pollution offence has been committed, they may prosecute the person responsible.

The Environment Agency may require the polluter to take steps to clean up or prevent the pollution. It could issue a works notice under section 161A of the Water Resources Act 1991.

Really serious pollution incidents may amount to ‘water damage’ under the Environmental Damage Regulations. The Regulations require operators to take action to prevent or remediate the damage. They give effect to the European Environmental Liability Directive 2000/35/EC.


Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010: regulation 38 (pollution offence)

Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/810

Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) Regulations 2009, SI 2009/995

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