Huge sewage spill devastates Scottish coast

Scotland's biggest sewage plant is back in working order after a major sewage spill on Friday saw thousands of gallons of raw sewage released into the sea.

Since sewage pumps failed at the Seafield sewage treatment plant on Friday over 250,000 gallons of human waste from Edinburgh and the surrounding area entered the sea in the Leith area of the city.

Environmental protection officers started investigating the incident on Monday but it is ‘too early’ to be making conclusions, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency said:

“Obviously, this is a major incident and we are treating it as such. There has been an exceptionally large volume of untreated sewage discharged into the Forth over the last few days. However, it is too early to make any comment on the likely extent or impact of the incident,” SEPA said.

After the pumping station malfunctioned, Thames Water – which operates the pumping station under a contract from Scottish Water – had no choice but to direct the sewage into the sea, the water companies said.

“The failure on Friday resulted in the plant being unable to process 20% of its usual intake. To prevent sewage flooding into streets in Edinburgh, the screened effluent had to be discharged into the Firth of Forth as an emergency measure,” according to Thames Water.

But local residents said the disaster could have been averted had the water companies invested in making the sewage plant safer.

“We’ve been telling the Labour and Lib Dem government and Edinburgh Council that Seafield is a disaster waiting to happen,” Rob Kirkwood, chairman of Leith Links Residents’ Association, told BBC Radio Scotland.

“It has an infrastructure that is basically third world technology,” he said.

Thames Water insisted that the type of pumps used at Seafield were “renowned within the water industry as being particularly reliable and effective.”

Thames Water managing director Craig Anderson said: “Thames Water operates the highest levels of environmental protection and maintenance at all our sites, but very occasionally machinery breaks down.”

Goska Romanowicz

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