Scottish Water has been fined £12,000 for allowing a sewage overflow to occur as a result of blocked manholes in Kirkintilloch.
The water provider was also found guilty of ‘prolonged pollution’ that involved similar incidents at three other manholes in the same region.
Scottish Water allowed an overflow of untreated sewage waste to leak into Kirkintilloch’s Purgatory Burn for more than three whole months between March and June 2013. In a court hearing last week, the company was accused of being slow to act on the issue, simply allowing the waste water to seep into the river.
It was also reported that Scottish Water did nothing to clean up the mess left behind as a result of the leak.
The environmental disaster is said to have been caused by dual manholes – the surface and foul sewers running parallel to one another. This close proximity between the two means that any sewage pollution from one is much more likely to enter the water environment, and more quickly too. Employers who work closely with sewers can get training to build up skills and knowledge of working in confined spaces, you can visit website to find out more.
Procurator fiscal depute Kate Fleming explained:
“When there is a blockage in the sewer, the sewer backs up with untreated sewage and overflows into the surface water drainage system, meaning that sewage pollution is sent directly into the water environment.”
The blockage of the manholes caused the river’s water to change colour and produced a strong, unpleasant smell. The burn’s banks were also filled with dirty water, sanitary products and needles at its junction with the River Kelbin, which Fleming claimed Scottish Water did not make any attempts to clean up afterwards.
The court was told that the manholes had been deemed unfit for purpose by environmental officers and that Scottish Water had been responsible for allowing repeated similar occurrences at two other manholes in Kirkillintoch – Ailsa Drive and Felisview Avenue.
Scottish Water pleaded guilty to allowing the discharge of sewage waste into the Purgatory Burn.
The incident is not the first of its kind that Scottish Water has had to put right this year. Earlier in April, 100 litres of partially diluted sewage (enough to fill 170 Olympic-sized swimming pools) was discharged into the Firth of Forth after pumping station failure.
The leak took place over two and a half days and was eventually stopped by emergency pumps that had been put in place at the Seafield plant in Leith a few days previously. Many residents complained that they were not given enough notice of the possibility that beaches could have been contaminated, and some had been long campaigning about the smell coming from the plant itself.