August 2013 – Alva Burn pollution incident

It has been reported in today’s papers the Scottish Water have been fined £6,500 at Alloa Sheriff Court for polluting the Alva Burn on the 31st August 2013.

They plead guilty to causing pollution to the water environment by allowing the discharge of chlorinated water in to the Alva Burn (one of the Devon’s important spawning burn).,500_fo.aspx?lang=en-gb

The comments reported in The Courier made Patrick Hughes, the Procurator Fiscal for Wildlife and the Environment were telling:

“This incident was brought to the attention of Sepa by members of the public, at which point the environmental damage was already done.

“It was entirely avoidable. Scottish Water failed to implement appropriate notification systems, take cognisance of the environmental impact or follow their own guidance and have appropriate systems in place to mitigate the pollution.

“That failure, the resultant damage to the environment and the impact on the local community is unacceptable.”

A familiar observation sadly [ see the Procurator Fiscal’s comments here ]

The SEPA press release is particularly critical of Scottish Water, particularly in the comments made by their investigating officer

“This pollution could have been avoided if sodium thiosulphate had been on site, with appropriate apparatus to treat the water before it was discharged. A wide range of dosing equipment and chlorine monitors are available, but the method being used by Scottish Water at this site was essentially a bucket sized container which would dose the chlorinated water discharge with sodium thiosulphate once. This would not treat any type of continuing discharge, and as such falls far short of the standard required for an incident such as this.

“It is also disappointing that Scottish Water on becoming aware of the discharge did not think it was ’their job’ to consider the overflow and the impact that the discharge could have on the water environment . Staff failed to recognise environmental harm, or to mitigate pollution risks. In addition, sodium thiosulphate was not obtained until after SEPA told Scottish Water to obtain some. Scottish Water staff ought to know what to do in situations like this, otherwise valuable time can be lost. In this case there was an ongoing discharge for three days, which resulted in the death of over 1,000 fish and the local community couldn’t use the area downstream of the discharge for a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, swimming/paddling and walking.”



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