Company admits to 'significant' sewage leak in Lothians river which has blighted young fish and poses risk to dogs

The sewage will have deprived river wildlife of oxygen and damage fish, according to experts.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 4:58 pm

A “significant” amount of raw sewage leaked into a Scottish river has had a detrimental effect on wildlife.

The East Calder Waste Water Treatment Works in West Lothian has admitted it was responsible for dumping sewage into the River Almond on April 6.

While the treatment plant’s operator describes the spillage as minor with no risk to wildlife, local river experts have said the quantity of raw waste was “significant” and will have harmed young fish.

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The East Calder Waste Water Treatment Works in West Lothian confirmed it was responsible for dumping sewage into the River Almond on April 6.

Dog walkers have also been advised to keep their pets away from the area.

A spokeswoman from the Forth District Salmon Fishery Board said: “We have been notified that a significant amount of raw sewage was discharged into the river Almond from East Calder WWTW and that this was contrary to the CAR Licence held by the operator Veolia.

“The amount discharged and the current low water levels within the river will have had a negative impact on emerging and juvenile salmon and trout.

“This will be because of the nutrient loading from the sewage will deprive these species of oxygen and the sediment smothering the bed gravels within the river bed will damage the fish and in particular their gills.

“The extent of the impact is currently being ascertained.”

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The Forth DSFB and the Forth Rivers Trust are waiting for further information from SEPA before discussing what measures should be taken next.

A West Lothian Council spokesman has asked dog walkers using Almondell and Calderwood Country Park not to let their dogs go into the Almond for safety reasons.

SEPA is aware of the incident and has been working with the treatment plant’s operator Veolia in order to establish the cause of the spillage.

In a statement it said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment, and is aware of an incident on Monday 6th April at East Calder Waste Water Treatment Works, near Edinburgh.

“SEPA Officers have been working with the operator, Veolia, to establish the cause of the incident.

“SEPA will continue to work with the operator to ensure the identification and implementation of mitigation measures and will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to assessing compliance and considering enforcement action.”

A spokeswoman for Veolia said: “On the April 6 there was a minor spillage of sewage from the East Calder Treatment Works following routine maintenance works which were carried out under EPI. This was handled immediately and SEPA were made fully aware at the time with no risk to the environment."