High Levels of Raw Sewage found in Hayle Harbour Sparks Health Concern

Posted in: Global Water News, Water Contamination, Water Health Effects
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Photo credit: The Cornishman

Article courtesy of The Cornishman | February 26, 2015 | The Cornishman | Shared as educational material

HIGH levels of raw sewage have been found in the water at Hayle Harbour, sparking a public health concern.

The raw effluent was found in the water and routine tests of mussel beds on the quayside showed ‘dangerously high’ levels of contamination.

The output was due to a fault at a sewage outlet close to the South West Water (SWW) pumping station on East Quay.

It is believed the outlet could have been discharging sewage into the harbour for months.

The outlet is not maintained by SWW, but the company has agreed to help with investigations.

Testing carried out by government body Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) found E.coli present in the water, bacteria which can be transferred to humans if they ingest contaminated water or food.

The presence of E. coli is a strong indication of recent sewage, claim the Environment Agency (EA).

Harbourmaster Peter Haddock, who commissioned the tests in a bid to start harvesting mussels, was shocked with the results.

“The test showed dangerously high levels of E.coli. The sewage was discharging straight into the harbour; it could have been going on for quite some time.

“We have a lot of harbour users; people use the place for fast water rescue training, where they get into the water. My fear is whether they could have swallowed contaminated water. It is quite worrying.”

He said his main priority was to make sure the contamination did not pose a risk to public health.

“It was a safety issue for me. In the summer we can get a lot of people down here.

“There are always people in the water for some reason or another – even though swimming is not allowed in the harbour.”

The testing was carried out in October, with the findings published just before Christmas. Mr Haddock then contacted the EA, who sent officers to inspect the pollution.

In January, Hayle Town Council raised a complaint with SWW, which it felt was “not treating the issue with the seriousness it deserved”.

A SWW spokesman said the sanitary test discovered bacteria at the surface water pipe next to the emergency overflow on East Quay, but stated the overflow was not operating at the time.

“The Environment Agency believes that some properties in the town may be incorrectly plumbed into the surface water system and discharging to the estuary via this pipe.

“We have agreed to help the Environment Agency investigate further to try to identify the properties in question.”

Repair work was carried out in the last month to stop the sewage output.

Mr Haddock said the mussels faced another two years of testing at a further cost of £900 before they could be considered for the food chain.

 

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