FLY-TIPPERS have dumped 173 metal drums leaking unknown chemicals in a country lane in Waterlooville – which risked the contamination of a 'critical' water supply for Portsmouth.
The chemical dump was found by a member of public walking close to Coldhill Lane, Waterlooville, on Friday, October 25.
The discovery led Portsmouth Water to turn off the Lovedean Pumping Station and bore hole, as the chemicals posed a 'real risk of contamination' to Portsmouth’s water supply, according to the company’s Head of HR, Ian Limb.
He said: 'We still don't know what the chemicals are – they were leaking out of old paint containers.
'We have sent samples off for testing.’
Portsmouth Water contracted specialist environmental removal contractors Adler and Allan to clean up the site, with their staff working throughout the night to clear the dangerous material.
The pumping station and bore resumed normal service on Saturday morning.
While there was no risk of homes and businesses suffering a water shortage thanks to the company’s network of pumps, the clean-up was a ‘huge inconvenience’ that cost more than £15,000.
Mr Limb added: 'Fly-tipping is more than just a blot on the landscape.
‘I don’t think the people who dumped these drums understand the impact they have had.’
The 173 drums made up the largest fly-tipping site the water company has faced, with the illegal dumping of chemical being ‘the single biggest risk’ the business faces, according to CEO Bob Taylor.
He said: ‘Whilst we will work with the Environment Agency and others to follow up this illegal dumping, the eyes and ears of our customers on the ground can be helpful in finding the culprits and bringing them to answer for what is an illegal activity and in this case an activity that could have caused great long term harm to the environment and water supplies.
‘It was only this quick response that prevented the incident escalating to something more serious.’
There have been 23,000 reports of fly-tipping across Hampshire over the last three years.
The crime carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine or up to five years imprisonment.