McDonald's fined for polluting British waterway

Reuters; 24 July 1997

LONDON (Reuter) - Britain's Environment Agency said Thursday that the McDonald's fast-food chain had been hit with fines and legal costs totalling $13,850 for polluting an English waterway.

It said that McDonald's Restaurants Ltd., a British subsidiary of McDonald's Corp., had pleaded guilty to polluting a tributary of the Alconbury Brook with sewage effluent from one of its outlets in Cambridgeshire, north of London.

The burger chain broke the law twice last August and once in April by discharging sewage through fields, resulting in sheep receiving drinking water that was unfit for livestock, the agency said.

It said an agency inspector found that the treatment plant at the chain's Alconbury branch appeared not to work, allowing fungus to grow and the smell of old sewage to spread.

A second visit revealed continued problems and the company gave assurances that the matter would be fixed, said the agency, an independent government body. A third visit, carried out eight months later, showed the plant was still not operating properly.

"Any company must take responsibility and ensure that the management of its waste is given as much attention as any other aspect of its business, and that it operates so that no harm comes to the environment," Paul Waldron, the agency's area water quality manager, said in a statement.

Robert Parker, consumer affairs manager at McDonald's British subsidiary, told Reuters the company regretted the lapse brought to light by the court ruling, delivered Wednesday.

"We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and immediately we were aware of this situation we took significant steps to resolve it," he said.

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