Chemical ban at Seafield plant following residents’ complaints

Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield Sewage works
Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield Sewage works
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SEWAGE plant bosses have suspended use of a chemical aimed at tackling the notorious Seafield stench – after complaints it produces its own obnoxious odour.

Campaigner Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, said Scottish Water had previously dismissed claims that potassium permanganate was causing a “chemical” smell, insisting it was 
odourless.

And he said the move to halt its use only came after the residents wrote to the water company highlighting academic research on the issue.

Mr Kirkwood said: “We have always maintained it produces an offensive odour, but Scottish Water always said it was odourless.

“We found academic evidence which has been around for years showing that when potassium permanganate mixes with chemicals naturally occurring in sea water it produces obnoxious odours.

“Why did it take amateurs like ourselves to alert them to these academic papers which have been around for years?”

And he also criticised the council’s environmental health department, which he said had simply parroted Scottish Water’s line.

“They just accepted the assurance from the water company that it couldn’t produce odours because it was being used in a covered area.

“I pointed out that this couldn’t be the case because the community could smell it when it was being used.

“The department just ignored this evidence and gave the green light for its continuing use.

“It really is lamentable that Leith Links Residents Association have had to alert them to the issue.

“The perception in the community is the department is lazy, adopts a ‘can’t do’ approach and closes ranks with Scottish Water any time that complaints are raised.”

Scottish Water said it was standard practice throughout the UK water industry to add potassium permanganate to waste water under certain operating conditions to mitigate odours.

A spokeswoman said: “This is reflected in the Seafield odour management plan which has been approved by the site’s regulators.

“Prior to May 2018 there have been no reports of a chemical smell being detected within the community during the periods when this chemical had been added.

“However, in recognition of representations made by sections of the community on this matter a review on the use of potassium permanganate dosing will be conducted by means of further research and trials at a Scottish Water test site and in the meantime the use of potassium permanganate dosing has been suspended.”

City council environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “We take concerns from the local community about Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works extremely seriou sly and continue to monitor the plant closely, in partnership with other stakeholders and will of course investigate any changes or recommendations that come to light.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com