Water chiefs told to up their game on Seafield stench

Seafield sewage works. Picture: Jayne Wright
Seafield sewage works. Picture: Jayne Wright
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WATER bosses face being ordered to take fresh action to tackle the notorious Seafield stench after a council report highlighted management failings at the plant.

A year-long monitoring exercise found that a £20 million package of measures, including new screening and treatment equipment and covering up open channels, had improved the situation, but odour emissions were still too frequent.

Rob Kirkwood  outside the Seafield sewage plant. Picture: Dan Phillips

Rob Kirkwood outside the Seafield sewage plant. Picture: Dan Phillips

The report, to be considered by the city council’s environment committee, recommends that Scottish Water be asked to identify further odour reduction measures and develop a plan, “including appropriate investment”.

It criticises “inadequate operational management controls” at the plant, which is run by Veolia Water on behalf of Scottish Water.

The report says: “Data collected during the monitoring programme and the outcome of consultations have established that the frequency and unpleasant nature of the odour emissions continue to be offensive to the local community and interfere with local people’s enjoyment of the amenities within the community.”

Work began on the £20 million package of measures in 2008. They included fitting an “odour abatement plant” above the sewage tanks to filter out noxious smells, new screening and treatment equipment at the sewer entrance and covering the open channels between the different areas of the plant.

During the monitoring period, which ran from June 1, 2011 to August 31 this year, environment officials carried out 750 assessment visits to the site, detecting sewage odours on 89 occasions.

City environment convener Lesley Hinds said: “The measures taken have made a difference, but we believe it is not good enough. We want them to identify exactly where the smells are coming from and then look at an investment programme.”

Neighbours had feared the council would fudge its verdict after the monitoring period, but today Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, said: “The recommendations are far more robust than we had hoped. The recommendations make it clear that more investment is required and that Scottish Water are currently ‘not fit for purpose’ when it comes to managing the plant.

“The way forward is clear. The council is asking for more investment in the plant and rather than invest more money in a plan that doesn’t work, they need to go for the option of covering the tanks.”

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “After delivering £20m investment at Seafield, we welcome the decrease in emissions from the site and the recognition by a majority of residents surveyed that odour performance has improved.

“New management controls, systems and processes have already been put in place in recent months to address issues raised by the report.

“We remain committed to working with all parties going forward and will continue discussions to deliver further benefits for residents of the area.”