Latest stink sees Seafield face tougher city scrutiny

The latest stench, in March, drew 32 complaints from residents. Picture: Jayne Wright
The latest stench, in March, drew 32 complaints from residents. Picture: Jayne Wright
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THE NOTORIOUS Seafield stench will be subject to an extended period of intensive monitoring after breaching acceptable odour levels.

A £20 million odour improvement project undertaken at Scottish Water’s treatment works has been under scrutiny by the city council amid continuing complaints from local residents.

Odour levels were regularly checked between June 1, 2011 and May 31 this year. Following 32 complaints from the local community about odours released from the treatment works over a four-day period at the start of March council officers are now recommending that their monitoring and assessment programme be continued until the end of August.

The council’s director of services for communities, Mark Turley, said: “Investigation established that an overloading of sludge in a dedicated, sealed building was the cause of the odour release.”

He added that the incident resulted in a “strong and persistent odour”, which was considered unacceptable by the council and local community.

Members of the transport, infrastructure and environment committee will be asked to approve the continuation of the council’s programme at a meeting on Monday.

If given the green light, a more intensive monitoring programme will be carried out, which will include basing staff in the local area.

A survey of residents in the area will also be undertaken.

However, Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents’ Association, called for Scottish Water to cover all of the tanks at Seafield.

“Any extension once again demonstrates that council officials are on the side of Scottish Water,” he said. “Our view is that council officials have never given the benefit of doubt to the community.”

City environment leader, Lesley Hinds, said: “The community have a key role to play in the monitoring process, which is why we will carry out a survey of residents in the area to gauge their views on the effectiveness of the odour improvement plan. All information will be carefully considered in reaching a view on whether the improvement plan has been successful. I have been assured by officers that appropriate action will be taken if this is not the case.”

A spokeswoman for Scottish Water said: “We have always agreed to the extension of this monitoring period over the summer months and will continue to work closely with the PFI company and our regulators over this period.”

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith said: “Local people who have endured the Seafield stink for too many years have had enough of excuses and want to see action to solve the problem. Another three months of monitoring is completely unacceptable.”