BLACK, putrid filth pours into the sea at Eastney in yet another pollution incident.
The latest discharge of raw sewage is being closely monitored by the Environment Agency, which is urging Southern Water to fix the broken screens at its pumping station by the end of the year.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, the new minister for coastal communities, has spoken of Langstone Harbour as ‘an outstanding area’ for wildlife and leisure and said she will look into the issue.
The latest discharge on Sunday – after the area was hit with the tail-end of tropical storm Bertha – was filmed by officials at Eastney Cruising Association. They were shocked as a slick of black mess appeared and was accompanied by a foul stench that was still in the air yesterday.
Dave Joliffe, honorary secretary at the boating club, said: ‘This is disgraceful conduct. Bathers must be unwittingly subjecting themselves to a serious risk to their health and the general environmental damage in such a sensitive location is potentially catastrophic.
‘The tourist and leisure industry is vital to this area and every effort should be made to ensure a clean and healthy environment for all water users.’
Officials at the Environment Agency encouraged the public to report incidents of pollution, which experts can then follow up.
Three years ago Southern Water was fined a total of £150,000 for a number of illegal discharges in Langstone Harbour.
A statement added: ‘We are aware of the issues at the Fort Cumberland sewage treatment works in Eastney and have taken enforcement action against Southern Water in the past when unpermitted sewage discharges have occurred from the site.
‘We fully understand the concerns of local residents, businesses and interested groups and that’s why we are working closely with the water company to fast track their £15m programme of improvements to redesign the site.
‘We have encouraged Southern Water to bring forward the improvements ahead of their original proposed completion date of September 2015. We have received assurances from Southern Water that they are now set to be completed by the end of this year.
‘Members of the public who are concerned about pollution are encouraged to call our 24-hour emergency hotline on 0800 807060.’
Last year the agency took Southern Water to crown court – where there are potentially unlimited fines – following pollution in Kent, resulting in a £200,000 fine for the water company.
A statement from Southern Water said: ‘We released stormwater from our Fort Cumberland outfall on Sunday during heavy rain.
‘This happened once our storm storage tanks – which hold millions of litres of water – were full and was a course of action taken to prevent flooding.
‘Outfalls are a necessary part of all sewer systems as they protect towns from flooding during heavy rain. The vast majority of water released is rainwater.
‘In cities, it is not uncommon for the first release of stormwater to be darker because it will include run-off from roads. This applies in particular to Portsmouth as there are very few separate surface water sewers – the majority of rainwater and surface water from the catchment flows into our sewers.
‘We’re nearing the end of a £20m flood alleviation scheme to divert rainwater away from some of our sewers in Portsmouth. The scheme will see a significant amount of rainwater – up to 6,000 litres per second – which would normally go into the existing sewers diverted straight to sea through surface water outfalls, easing the pressure on the sewers during storms and greatly reduce the risk of sewer flooding.’
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