FRANCE: A French dairy could face a hefty fine for an ammonia leak which polluted local rivers and led to the death of nearly four tons of fish.

The dairy, Celia, based in Craon, appeared before the Criminal Court of Laval, accused of allowing ammonia refrigerant from a broken pipe to pollute the river Oudon. The incident occurred in May 2012, leading to the death of nearly four tons of fish in Mayenne and Maine-et-Loire.

Prosecutors maintain that rather than remove the ammonia by suitable means, an accumulation of technical errors and negligence led to direct disposal of the toxic material into the river.

Celia is a subsidiary of Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group and the second largest food products group in France.

The prosecutor is pushing for a fine of €100,000 against the factory and a further fine a fine of €5,000 euros for not having reported the incident promptly.

The verdict is expected on December 12.