Thames Water sewage treatment works in Didcot, Oxfordshire
Thames Water will find out how much it has to pay for allowing huge amounts of untreated effluent to enter the waterway in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire over the course of months in 2013 and 2014.
The discharge left people and farm livestock ill and killed fish and other animals living in the river, putting anglers and fishermen out of business.
They allowed huge amounts of untreated effluent to enter the waterway in Oxfordshire
I have to make the fine sufficiently large that [Thames] get the message
Judge Francis Sheridan
Judge Francis Sheridan has already warned that the firm faces paying its largest ever environmental penalty when he hands down his sentence at Aylesbury Crown Court today.
At a hearing last week he was told Thames's record fine for pollution was £1million, paid in January 2016. The judge replied that "the fine in this case is certainly in excess of that", adding:"I have to make the fine sufficiently large that [Thames] get the message."
Thames Water chief executive Steve Robertson leaving court
The sentencing followed a ruling in March 2016 that big commercial organisations which cause environmental pollution can be ordered to pay fines running into tens of millions of pounds.
According to the Environment Agency, which brought the prosecution, the largest fine handed down to a water utility for an environmental disaster was given to Southern Water in December over an incident on Margate Beach in Kent in 2012.
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Thames Water admitted 13 breaches of environmental laws
Thames Water admitted 13 breaches of environmental laws over discharges from sewage treatment works in Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley and Little Marlow, and a pumping station at Littlemore. It also pleaded guilty to a further charge on March 17 over a lesser discharge from an unmanned sewage treatment plant at Arborfield in Berkshire in September 2013.
The judge will also take into account seven further incidents at sewage sites on the Thames in 2014.