Tuesday, February 24, 2015

24/02/2015: Scottish Water admits dumping chemicals in river poisoning 5000 fish

Scottish Water has admitted causing a catastrophic pollution incident which killed nearly 5000 fish, STV News reports.

The company admitted polluting several kilometres of a river with aluminium sulphate after an employee left a water valve open.

The government quango was fined £8000 after the court heard it was responsible for killing "huge numbers of fish".

Perth Sheriff Court was told the pollution turned six kilometres of the River Farg in Perthshire "white and milky" and wiped out virtually all of the trout and salmon.

The court was also told the sight of the dead and dying fish also caused distress to passers-by who witnessed it.

Dunfermline-based Scottish Water admitted a charge of killing approximately 4900 fish and other organisms in the River Earn tributary on May 13 and 14 last year.


The company admitted carrying out a controlled activity liable to cause pollution of the water environment, namely by discharging aluminium sulphate into the River Farg.

The company discharged the chemical compound from Glenfarg Water Treatment Works at East Blair Farm in Glenfarg.

Scottish Water admitted it had "interfered and impaired legitimate use of the water environment" of a river which also serves as a tributary for the River Tay.

Fiscal depute Shona McJannett said: "Aluminium sulphate dissolves quickly in water and is harmful to aquatic organisms as it increases the acidity of the water.

"On the May 13, 2013, a Scottish Water employee mistakenly left open a water carrier valve which resulted in water flowing into the aluminium sulphate tank."

She said the tank overflowed, flooded a corridor and was then released into the River Farg over a period of several hours.

Ms McJannett added: "During this period, alarms that should have alerted Scottish Water employees to the problem were sounding, but insufficient checks were made and the alarms cleared without establishing the problem.

"During the course of the discharge, Sepa received complaints from members of the public that the river was looking irregular, white and milky up to 6km downstream of the treatment plant.

"When Sepa officers attended to investigate, they found fish in distress and dead fish. As a result of the incident, huge numbers of fish were killed.

"There was almost a complete removal of all trout and possibly salmon from a 3km stretch of the river downstream of the plant.

"All fry from the preceding spawning season were also lost and populations of relatively pollution-tolerant species such as lamprey, eels and stickleback were also impacted.

"An ecological study conducted by Sepa estimates that approximately 4900 fish were lost to the region. Members of the public were affected by the incident and the visible dead fish."

The court was told the site had suffered power cuts and staff wrongly assumed they were responsible for alarms sounding, rather than the spill which had taken place.

Aluminium sulphate is harmful if swallowed or inhaled.

It is used by Scottish Water to coagulate particles to assist the filtration process.

Read the article HERE.

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