Residents sick of Seafield stench demand answers

Seafield Sewage Sewerage Works/Science Scientific Services. Photo by Jayne Wright.
Seafield Sewage Sewerage Works/Science Scientific Services. Photo by Jayne Wright.
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SCOTTISH Water is under growing pressure to come clean about the latest Seafield stench.

City environment convener Lesley Hinds has added her voice to those of residents demanding that water bosses explain what is in the obnoxious “burning rubber” fumes which have been plaguing the area since earlier this year.

People have said the stench makes them feel sick and they fear it could pose a health risk.

A filter at the Seafield sewage works has been identified as the source of the smell, but the plant is still being allowed to operate at night and when the wind if offshore.

At a tense meeting involving plant owners Scottish Water, operators Veolia Water, the council, environment protection agency Sepa and community groups, residents asked in vain for a breakdown of the gases which were being released into the atmosphere.

Rob Kirkwood, chair of Leith Links Residents Association, said: “In spite of numerous requests to give us a breakdown of the gases we have all been breathing in, Veolia Water and Scottish Water came to the meeting without any breakdown. There seems a remarkable reluctance to share this information with us.

“Sepa should be insisting on the breakdown – but they have this policy of allowing the plant to operate with faulty equipment at night and when the wind is offshore. Their attitude seems to be ‘We will allow it until we know it’s poisonous’.”

Councillor Hinds said it was right the community should know what was in the air.

She said the “stakeholders” meeting had been due in June but did not take place until last week. “We still didn’t have a report from them on the issue of the burning smell and why that had occurred. They were not willing to say at this stage what the emissions were. If this information is available, why not be open about it?”

Mr Kirkwood said there was another recent incident with the smell. “From 11pm the whole of Leith Links was covered once again with this awful smell, strong enough to penetrate people’s houses.

“One family was wakened in the middle of the night by a child screaming, thinking the gas was on in the house because the smell was so strong. The wind had changed, but no-one appears to be monitoring such changes and there are no procedures for closing the plant down.”

Scottish Water said Veolia was undertaking an investigation into the burning smell.

A Veolia spokesman said: “We would like to reassure customers that a range of tests and investigations are taking place to identify and address the issue.”

A Sepa spokesman said: “Sepa is awaiting the completion of this investigation, following which officers will work with all relevant partners to ensure that odours from the Seafield site are reduced.”