Sunday 22 April 2007

Well done Thames Water

Taken from the Scotsman website (

Public warned to stay out of Forth after sewage spill


COUNCIL chiefs last night warned the public to avoid contact with the water in the Firth of Forth after it emerged that sewage had been released into the estuary.

The contamination has been blamed on a mechanical failure at Edinburgh's Seafield sewage works, which led to a thousand litres of sewage a second being fed into the firth for more than 24 hours.

Edinburgh council warned people to stay out of the water, wash their hands thoroughly if they have visited the area, and not to eat fish or shellfish caught there because of the risk of bacterial diseases.

Thames Water, which runs the sewage works, was yesterday trying to install a temporary pump to stop the sewage entering the Forth, which was expected to be in place by midnight.

Mesh around the pipes meant there was no danger of solid waste entering the river, the company said.

However, Thames Water it they had no option but to allow contaminated water to filter through.

A spokeswoman said: "We were unable to repair the pump on site.The breakdown meant the sewage could not be directed to the treatment facility.

"We had to allow an emergency outflow into the Forth - if we had not done that it would have been directed on to land.

"It was discharging about one thousand litres a second, however it was very, very heavily diluted by the time it entered the water.

"And we have screening so no solids would have been able to get into the Forth."

She added: "We will now have to take the regular equipment away to get that repaired and hopefully it will be back within the next couple of weeks."

It is the first time in the seven years Thames Water has run the sewage system at Seafield that such an outbreak has affected the Forth.

A spokesman for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said: "It is too early to tell what the extent of the impact has been. We will need to keep an eye on the station and see what happens."

Warning notices were posted along the banks of the Forth yesterday. Environmental health officers have been carrying out beach inspections but have not found any signs of sewage or contaminated water.

It is not known how great a part of the Forth has been affected. People who use the firth for recreational pursuits such as yachting have been advised to take care and avoid contact with the water.

Edinburgh council leader Ewan Aitken said: "We are very concerned about this incident and are working closely with Scottish Water, Thames Water, Sepa and neighbouring authorities to resolve the issue. We urge people to ensure they maintain high standards of personal hygiene and do not take anything home from the beach."

People who remain concerned about the dangers have been advised to contact the council's environmental health service.

The incident comes less than a month after Scottish Water unveiled a three-year £130m project to upgrade its network of treatment facilities across the Lothians.

That includes the £50m Edinburgh Drinking Water Project to improve the quality of water in the capital and the upgrading of the city's water treatment works at Alnwickhill, which have been operating since 1879.

The water treatment works at Fairmilehead will either be upgraded or replaced with a purpose-built facility in Midlothian.

Thousands of residents in West and East Lothian will also get improved drinking water.

Well done Thames Water!!!

The BBC website claims "Urgent work to stem sewage spill". Pff, doesn't sound like they're working so urgently to me. This is has been going on since Friday, mind. I have two questions:
1/ Why are there no containment/overflow pools to deal with this sort of incident?
2/ Why does it take so bloody long to fix/replace a pump? Did they have to order one to be built from scratch using components found in Taiwan and assembled in Mexico????????

It is an absolute disgrace. The full extent of the damage remains to be seen for some time.

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