SEPA water pollution prosecutions
13 February 2018
Scottish Water was fined £17,000 at Airdrie Sheriff Court on 7 February 2018 for causing sewage to discharge to the Red Burn from Dunnswood Sewage Treatment Works, Cumbernauld in July 2014.
Between 13 and 14 July 2014, a failure occurred at the Dunnswood Sewage Treatment Works which resulted in the release of an estimated two million litres of untreated sewage into the Red Burn. Scottish Water reported the discharge to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and environment protection officers launched an investigation into the cause. The incident resulted in a number of fish mortalities across the Red Burn and in the Bonny Water which is used for fishing.
The farm partnership David McCreery and Sons was also fined £1,200 in January 2018 for repeatedly discharging slurry and silage to unnamed tributaries of the Gifford Water, causing pollution to the receiving waters and harm to fish and invertebrate populations. The incident was investigated by SEPA and a report sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
SEPA first became aware of the incident when a local resident reported on 22 September 2014 that the Gifford Water was discoloured (dark green/brown), foaming and smelt strongly of slurry.
A survey carried out by SEPA ecologists demonstrated that the slurry and silage effluent had resulted in a significant volume of polluting substances being released into the water environment, causing serious pollution to the receiving waters and fish fatalities. They concluded that the dead fish in the Gifford Water are likely to have died as a result of the slurry spill, due to a severe drop in dissolved oxygen to levels which were lethal to salmonids.
SEPA considers that the prosecutions highlight the importance of managing farm effluents and maintaining critical water treatment infrastructure.