Seafield sewage works blamed for new stink plaguing Leith

Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield sewage works. File picture: Ian Georgeson

Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield sewage works. File picture: Ian Georgeson

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AN environmental watchdog has confirmed a new “burning rubber” smell plaguing residents in Leith is coming from Seafield sewage works.

And now campaigners are calling for an odour abatement order to be slapped on the plant.

In our experience, Veolia will only get their act together if they are given a public and formal kick up the bum.

Rob Kirkwood

Residents had to put up with a sewage stench from Seafield for years, but they say the new pong, which started a few months ago, wakes people up in the night, can make them feel sick and could pose a health risk.

Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, told the Evening News last month that he had traced the smell to Seafield – and he blamed new “thermal hydrolysis” equipment at the plant which turns sewage into fertiliser.

The council said at the time it had not been able to identify the source of the problem. But now the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has said it visited the site and “verified the odour was arising from the sewage sludge treatment processes” – the same part of the plant Mr Kirkwood highlighted.

Sepa said once the exact source was identified, it would “take steps to make sure the operators undertake works to eliminate this problem”.

But Mr Kirkwood wants an official odour abatement order served on Veolia Water, who operate the plant on behalf of Scottish Water, to make sure they respond.

He said: “In our experience, Veolia will only get their act together if they are given a public and formal kick up the bum.

“They must have known they were producing this odour. If people could smell it as far away as the Kirkgate, they must have smelled it too.”

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Scottish Water takes all complaints relating to odour extremely seriously. We are liaising both with our regulators and site operators Veolia and a wider site investigation into the matter is taking place.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council remains concerned about this smell which has been ongoing for a number of weeks, and which we have had numerous reports about from members of the public. We are working closely with Sepa to identify the source of the smell, and will ensure action is taken by Scottish Water to eradicate the smell as quickly as possible.

A Sepa spokesman said: “We expect the operator to continue to work on identifying and eliminating this problem as a matter of urgency. We will take action if this is necessary to secure compliance.”