Residents still surrounded by sewage six weeks after leak on Hayling Island
MORE than a month since a sewage spill on Hayling Island residents claim '˜nothing has been done' to clean up land surrounding their homes.
On September 14 residents in the village of Stoke suffered a '˜catastrophic spillage' as effluent from a pumping station flooded the land surrounding their homes for 36 hours.
Six weeks on they are beginning to question the clean-up operation.
Save Our Island pressure group spokesmanÂ Dave ParhamÂ said: '˜At a recent meeting with Southern Water they were challenged with the question that it may be cheaper to pay the fine thanÂ deal with the response.'Â
ResidentÂ Richard PlattÂ added: '˜It is totally disgraceful that nothing has been done. We had a catastrophic leak sixÂ weeks ago and nothingÂ has happened to clear up this pollution surrounding our homes.'
Mr Parham said: '˜I met the Southern Water area manager and he agreedÂ they were going to do a '˜light clean-up' with the removal ofÂ solid sewage waste. This should have been done some time ago.'
Resident, Martin Elliot Smith, added: '˜There is still effluent sludgeÂ and the stench is awful. I give Southern Water 10Â out of 10 for doing nothing.'
Whilst there has been a clean-up operation on the westernÂ side of the road residents are aggrievedÂ nothing has been cleared from the drainage ditch to the east.
Caroline Mead, whoÂ lives alongside the ditch, said:Â '˜It is disgusting. They must have spent thousands cleaning upÂ across the road but have done nothing here where most people live.'
'˜Southern Water claimÂ they are acting on the advice of the Environment Agency asÂ they don't want to disturb the sludge as it can release further pollution into the harbour but what about the people who live here?Â They have said thatÂ the UV light will kill off the bacteriaÂ but most of it sitsÂ under thick undergrowth,' explained Mr Platt.
A Southern Water spokesman responded: '˜Our clean-up operation has been agreed by experts from our regulator, the Environment Agency, in order to protect the environment aroundÂ LangstoneÂ Harbour.'
'˜Since then our specialist crews have visited the area, met with residents and agreed a course of action to carry out further work. We are currently awaiting a mutually convenient date to gain access via their gardens and land to conclude this work.'
'˜We are working closely with the Environment Agency, taking guidance from them and our own ecologist to ensure we are managing the situation correctly.'
'˜We understand the strength of feeling around this and would like to reassure people there is no remaining wastewaterÂ and the drainage ditch is free from visible contamination and odour.'Â Â
Ray RowsellÂ believesÂ protectionÂ of the natural environmentÂ is being given precedence to the welfare of people.
'˜The view from the Environment Agency appears to be that it is more important to protect the flora and fauna surrounding the ditch than the potential danger to humans,' explained Mr Rowsell.Â
A statement from the Environment Agency said: '˜Our investigation into the sewage spill at Hayling Island continues. Protecting our waterways is not an optional extra for businesses.'
With previous spills having occurred in 2010 and 2014, residents believeÂ more needs to be done to ensure there is noÂ repeat.Â
'˜Southern WaterÂ agreed to look at the re-engineering of theÂ system. I am confident theyÂ will stick to their pledgeÂ but I am less confident it will be to our satisfaction,' said Mr Parham.
ResidentsÂ feel Havant Borough Council need to accept someÂ responsibility.
Mr Parham said: '˜I blame the council in the sense they did not take a lead role after the 2010 and 2014 spillages and simply accepted Southern Water's assurances that measures had been put in place.'Â
CouncillorÂ NarinderÂ Bains, cabinet lead for neighbourhoods, responded: '˜Although the treatment of sewage isn't our responsibility, the health of our residents is our number one priority.Â We are doing everything we canÂ to ensure this issue is taken extremelyÂ seriously.Â WeÂ have invited Southern Water to ourÂ Operations and Place ShapingÂ Scrutiny BoardÂ on November 13 to answer questions.'