ONE of the largest healthy snack bar producers in Europe has been fined £6,000 for the discharge of a pollutant at their Newport factory.

Halo Foods Limited, which produces cereal bars on its site in Queensway Meadows, pleaded guilty at Newport Magistrates Court yesterday to causing or knowingly permitting a water discharge which might lead to an input of pollutant to groundwater.

Mohammed Yakub, prosecutor on behalf of Natural Resource Wales, (NRW) told the court that the environmental officers first visited the site in February last year to take samples and check for pollution. NRW officers noticed a discharge smell from a storm drain which smelt like ‘sulphur’.

In a letter read out at court by the prosecution, Brendan Hartiman, Natural Resources Wales officer, said: “I have serious concerns for the discharge the pollutant might have on the Gwent Levels.

The cause of the water discharge has been attributed to a hand basin at the factory which was misconnected to the storm drain.

Mr Yakub, for the prosecution, said: “A sample was taken of the Biochemical Oxygen Demand in February. The closest the number to zero, the clearer the water. The discharge pollutant was 1,360 mg per litre.”

The defence disputed the sample in terms of its accuracy. Philip Crosbie, for the defence, said: “I apologise on behalf of the company for being before the court today. I don’t plan to excuse our actions.

“The factory is built on a meadow with other users on site not just Halo Foods. There has been mention of pollution to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it can’t be proven in terms of harm it has done.”

The company has carried out all the work required and has appointed Chris King as head of environmental health and safety, who was present at court to represent the company.

District Judge Neil Thomas said: “Severe problems have existed for a number of years without resolution. There is an obvious risk to an SSSI.

“The issue got out of hand and the company have now remedied the problem. My judgment on the fine has to be substantial to be a deterrent to others.”

The company was fined £6,000 plus costs of £2,460 and a surcharge of £120.