Drama as lingering stench of leak into Forth triggers emergency response

The scene just outside Hawes Inn, where the leak took place
The scene just outside Hawes Inn, where the leak took place
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A LEAK from a pipeline into the Forth does not pose a threat to people’s health or the environment, agencies have said.

There were fears that the seeping of a fluorescent substance into the water – which sent “disgusting” smells across South Queensferry – were more serious as dozens of response vehicles attended.

However, the leak from a BP line has been brought under control and contained mostly sea water, the oil giant said.

Both the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Lothian and Borders Police have moved to reassure locals that there are no risks to drinking water or the local eco-system.

The leak – which came from a pinhead-sized hole – occurred in a pipe that led from BP’s Hound Point terminal on the Forth to a treatment centre in Dalmeny.

That meant the ballast water – which is used to keep large vessels stable while on the water – made its way from the pipe across fields and into the Forth, to the alarm of locals and emergency services.

But it has now emerged the substance was made up of 99 per cent sea and rain water, and less than one per cent hyrdocarbons.

Tom Moore, BP’s operations manager for the pipeline, told a late-night press conference in South Queensferry: “We were alerted by a member of the public to a coloured liquid running into the Forth with a heavy smell of sulphur.

“Immediately our emergency response kicked in and we investigated what it was.

“We followed the line of the ballast system and found what appeared to be a leak from the ballast.

“People will not like it and we understand it’s a nuisance but there are no ill affects in those concentrations and there will be no lasting impact.”

He added: “We regularly inspect the lines for corrosion and clearly we did not expect to see corrosion of this kind in this line. It is not something we foresaw.”

Residents reported the problem yesterday morning, and immediately cordons were put up at Standing Stones Road and the west of the High Street.

What was described as “a multi-agency response” – involving SEPA, the police, the fire service and even the local RNLI – swung into action.

Lisa Dransfield, 45, who lives close by, said: “There was a stream just past the rail bridge that was bright yellow and green like a high-visibility jacket.

“It was giving off a disgusting sulphurous odour that smelled like rotten eggs. It was bubbling down the stream and flowing into the Firth of Forth.

“You could see a clear difference between the water in the Forth and this stuff flowing into it.”

Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western MSP, visited site of the leak, and said: “The priority now is for all agencies and BP to work together, to put a stop to the leak as soon as possible and ensure there is no damage to the Forth.”

A SEPA spokeswoman said: “The emergency services are currently dealing with an incident involving the discharge of drainage water from a ballast line in the South Queensferry/Dalmeny area near Edinburgh.

“Road cordons are currently in place at Standingstane Road, Dalmeny and the west of High Street, South Queensferry.

“A multi agency co-ordinated response to this incident has been put in place.”