THE long hot summer saw a record number of complaints about the notorious Seafield stench, residents have claimed.
And they blamed Veolia Water, which runs the sewage works, for failing to follow the recommendations of a review published just last year to ensure they were prepared for “wholly predictable” smells.
Rob Kirkwood of Leith Links Residents Association said: “In July there was a surge of complaints about Seafield sewage works – 80 complaints in all, which is an unprecedented high number.”
He said Veolia, which operates the plant under a PFI contract from Scottish Water, was well aware that hot, dry weather meant sewage gathering in the pipes and becoming septic because of the lack of rain to flush it through.
But he claimed the company had failed to heed the review’s recommendations.
He said: “One conclusion from the review was that sewage works need to anticipate problems and not just react to them. But they appear not to have been prepared for wholly predictable odours in July. We had four weeks of smells.”
He said for the first time Leith Links Community Council had set up its own complaints procedure. to help people notify smells from the sewage plant.
A single web form available on the community council website sends the complaint to the city council, Scottish Water, Veolia and the Scottish Government.
Sally Millar, secretary of the community council, said there had been 80 complaints in July and a further 32 this month.
She said: “And these are only the people who use our form – people will also be phoning and e-mailing.
“People were really, really angry – they were coming home from work, looking forward to sitting out in the garden or having a barbecue at the weekend but the smell was so overpowering they had to stay inside, close the windows and still not escape the smell entirely. People said they were feeling sick and one pregnant woman said she felt really ill. It affects people’s quality of life.”
A Scottish Water spokeswoman said the company was aware of an increase in complaints in July.
She said: “We apologise to customers and residents in the area for any inconvenience caused. During the long spell of hot and dry weather in July, Veolia took pre-emptive steps to minimise odour release. This included proactively working to ensure sludge levels in the primary settlement tanks were kept as low as possible.”
She insisted both Scottish Water and Veolia were implementing the recommended actions from the Strategic Odour Review.
Council environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Recent promotion of channels to contact the council has seen an increase in inquiries, which have been investigated where possible.”