THE notorious “Seafield Stench” has returned to the area around the waste water plant, despite £20 million being spent on an odour improvement project.
Residents say they have been overwhelmed by the smell in recent days, after being promised the new scheme would make the problem a thing of the past.
Scottish Water said the odour improvement measures were still working as they were designed to, but a new problem had arisen because of an alteration in the consistency of waste arriving at the plant.
It said the change was due to weather patterns and its staff and contractor Veolia were trying to find out what had caused it.
Once waste arrives at Seafield waste water treatment plant, it is separated out into liquid and solid waste. The liquids are treated and then released into the environment, while the solid matter sinks to the bottom of the treatment tanks and is treated to create something called sludge cake. The sludge cake can be used for fertiliser, fuel for power plants, or sent to landfill.
A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Varying flow conditions have altered the quality of incoming wastewater which in turn has affected the consistency of sludge produced in the cake building at the Seafield waste water treatment works.
“The sludge produced is currently wetter than normal. The wetter nature of the sludge has led to ammonia-like odours in the neighbouring community. It is in no way connected to a failure of the recent odour improvement project.
“Scottish Water and site operators Veolia are seeking to identify the weather patterns which lead to such conditions in order to better prepare the treatment process in future.
“Recent observations show that such load patterns are not unique to the Seafield catchment and are being replicated in other parts of Scotland. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents’ Association, said he had received numerous calls and visits from neighbours distressed by the smell. He said: “Whatever the cause, they should be able to cope – that’s the bottom line. That’s their job, to cope with the changes that occur regularly in Scotland in the weather. If they’re saying they can only operate within certain parameters then they’re not doing their job.
“It’s absurd to say it’s not a failure of the odour abatement plan. It was supposed to stop smells, it’s not stopping them. If that isn’t a failure, what is? So I think that they’re operating on the edge and whenever things get in some sense out of the ordinary or not normal, they can’t cope. They can only stop smells if the conditions are absolutely perfect.”
City environment leader, Councillor Robert Aldridge said the city council was concerned about the smell, but also claimed it had nothing to do with the odour improvement project. He said: “The council takes any odour incident extremely seriously and we have been in regular contact with Scottish Water and the plant operators since this problem was brought to our attention. Along with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, they are working to resolve the situation and are keeping us informed. It is not connected to the recent odour improvement project.”