Sewage released near Peacehaven just days after Southern Water fined £90m

Sewage was released into the sea near the Peacehaven and Saltdean area just days after Southern Water was fined £90m for illegally dumping waste into the waters, according to an MP.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 9:37 am
Peacehaven's coastline

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, raised the incident with the chief executive of the water company during a meeting last week.

It comes after a judgement found Southern Water had dumped between 16bn and 21bn litres of untreated sewage into delicate ecosystems, including Chichester Harbour, over a six-year period.

Mr Russell-Moyle said: “I pointed out that in the last seven days, after the judgement, there had been another release near Peacehaven/Saltdean of raw sewage, they told me this was due to a blockage that was not expected but couldn’t assure me of how they were going to stop this being repeated.”

A Southern Water spokesman said this was ‘an emergency release’ as a result of the build-up of unflushable items which affected its operations.

“A three and a half minute release from Peacehaven wastewater treatment works happened on 13th July,” the spokesman said.

“This was as a result of equipment which passes wastewater flows through to the treatment beds becoming blocked with wet wipes, sanitary towels, nappies and other debris.

“Specialist engineers arrived on site within an hour of the incident being reported and completed the dismantling, cleaning and rebuilding of the equipment within hours.

“While the site was unable to operate, flows were diverted first to storm tanks and when full to a screened long sea outfall which releases more than 2km off-shore.

“This was done to protect homes and businesses from flooding.

“Our priority during this incident was to ensure continued service to our customers and protect the environment.

“As a matter of routine we take samples of water and the impact on water quality at the shore line from this incident was negligible.

“Our Beachbuoy alerting service notified the public that a release was happening in real time.

“We are one of the first water companies to publish all of our releases, and other environmental information on our website.”

On July 9, Southern Water was fined £90m for what was described as a ‘shocking and wholesale disregard for the environment’ at 16 of its treatment sites over a six-year period from 2010.

The volume of the 6,971 separate discharges across the six years equated to 7,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools – read more here.