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.
Harbourmaster Peter Haddock, who commissioned the tests in a bid to start harvesting mussels, was shocked with the results.
“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.”
“It was a safety issue for me. In the summer we can get a lot of people down here.
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.
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.”
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.