Water chiefs ordered to end ‘Seafield stench’

The city is demanding investment to solve the plant's odour problem. Picture: Jayne Wright
The city is demanding investment to solve the plant's odour problem. Picture: Jayne Wright
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WATER chiefs have been ordered to bring an end to the notorious “Seafield stench”.

Councillors have demanded that Scottish Water invests in an “engineering solution” to the chronically smelly waste treatment plant.

Residents blasted “third-world technology” at the site, claiming that sewage plants across Europe had covered tanks as standard, while Seafield’s remain open.

City councillors were today set to approve a report demanding further investment to solve the odour problem during a meeting of the environment committee. The report also calls on council officials to examine whether the plant is breaching planning rules by allowing smells to escape, and has ordered the first-ever air testing at the border of the treatment plant.

Robert Kirkwood, of the Leith Links Residents’ Association, compared a policy of using wind direction to decide when to clean the tanks with “Russian roulette”.

He said: “During the cleaning of these tanks, when the wind changes, we’ve been engulfed in clouds of hydrogen sulfide for four to five hours.

“We’ve always argued that is not an engineering solution to a very significant problem in the community, but Scottish Water has persisted with this ‘Russian roulette’ procedure.

“This report requests an engineering solution and that’s a significant step for us. Scottish Water are being told that they’ve got to come up with a solution that works.”

Mr Kirkwood added: “We’ve got a third-world sewage treatment plant in one of the most prestigious cities in Europe, and it regularly stinks up the whole of Edinburgh with the smell of excrement.”

Environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said it was now time for Scottish Water to act.

She said: “Scottish Water need to tell us what the alternatives are, whether it’s reducing the number of tanks, changing the way they clean them, or some other mechanism.

“The number of complaints have gone down, but it’s still not at the level that the community wants.”

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “A £20 million odour improvement plan was completed in the summer of 2011, as well as a multi-million project to construct a new inlet works and replace coarse and fine screens.

“A new facility is also being constructed within the site to process sludge, helping to generate renewable energy and result in fewer lorry movements in and out of the works.”