Seafield Update

During 2017 the local community continued to suffer noxious smells and it was clear that the reporting system set up by Edinburgh City Council was ineffective. Difficult to use and response times poor.

In 2018 the CC introduced a reporting tool for the community to quickly report nuisance smells when it became clear that system set up by Edinburgh City Council (COEC) was ineffective, difficult to use and resulted in poor response times.

The link the CC set up is easy to use and we know that our locally elected politicians and public servants are aware of reports. More importantly the public servants we expect and trust with policing our complaints can’t ignore public concerns.

Between 09/07/18 and 19/08/18 there were 123 reports.

Then 09/09/18 to 23/11/18 19 reports.

During the most recent incident between 15/02/19 to 18/03/19 we received 57 reports

Scottish Water issued an update on 15/02/19 alerting the community to urgent work being carried out at Seafield due to build up of sludge. This was followed by an apology issued by Scottish Water on 26/02/19.

SEPA told the community they only received 1 complaint passed to them from COEC and they were not aware that there had been so many.

SEPA said to Leith Links Residents Association

Thanks for your email. I am sorry to hear the community have been experiencing odours. I have logged your email as an environmental event. The event reference number is ENV/0897328 and I can provide the update below.

SEPA did not receive any complaints about the site during the month of February 2019. We received one complaint on Friday 1 March 2019. Two officers attended the site on Friday 1 March and undertook an odour assessment on site and at two offsite locations.

Offsite the officers detected a faint whiff of sewage odour from the site. This was not deemed to be offensive. The odour detected offsite matched the odour detected on-site near the picket fence thickeners, which are unrelated to the activities covered by the Waste Management Licence and located outwith the Waste Management Licence boundary. Our findings were passed to City of Edinburgh Council Environmental Health on Monday 4 March.

The City of Edinburgh Council said

We can advise that we received a total of 83 Seafield odour complaints in February 2019, with 77 of these received between 24 and 28 February. Officers carried out 14 visits to the area, between 24 and 28 February, as a result of these complaints. In addition, four proactive assessments within the community were also carried out during the month and a plant inspection was carried out on 26 February.

We can confirm that mostly no or faint odours and occasionally moderate odours were witnessed on the visits made to the community during February 2019, which would not amount to what you refer to as a smell nuisance.

So although we received 57 complaint reports COEC didn’t think there was a problem. There is a problem for the local residents who have taken the time to report it.

I estimate that for every report made through the CC website there are probably 10 households who don’t

During February the CC has also been contacted by local residents because of noise which appears to have started about the same time that the most recent smell incidents were being reported. Veolia had to bring in mobile centrifuges to deal with sludge levels.

Leith Links CC received the response below from the City Council investigating noise

I refer to your emails below concerning a miscellaneous noise, causing disturbance over a wide area around Seafield / Restalrig. I’m sorry you had not received a reply, however we do not appear to have received your original email. We have now logged your complaint on our system.

With regard to the noise, I have two ongoing complaints in the
Seafield / Prospect Band area and received another from a resident in the Restalrig area yesterday. However, so far it has not been possible to witness the noise being complained off. Seafield Sewage Treatment Works (STW) were also contacted last year, however their investigations did not identify any unusual noise issues from machinery. A noise survey visit to one of the residents had been scheduled for last night, but was cancelled due to the high wind speed; as it affects noise measurements. The noise survey has been re-scheduled for next week.

Information provided from the original two residents who had complained and the fact that another two complaints have been received suggests that the noise is becoming louder and more persistent. Therefore it should make it easier to investigate the noise and determine the source.

I’ll give you an update once I have carried out the noise survey visit next week.

The noise stopped before any further investigation could take place about the same time the work stopped at Seafield.

On a balance of probability these problems are linked to Seafield.

The infrastrucure at Seafield is old and it’s failing on a more regular basis to cope with excessive levels of sludge. 

I also believe that during the most recent incidents there was a crisis at the plant that Veolia were trying to fire fight. Both SEPA and COEC have let the community down again by not investigating incidents properly.

We still have this mistaken belief by public officials that their noses and ears are better than those of the community.

Urgent action and investment at that the plant must be the way forward.

We haven’t even reached the normal smelly season during May.

Leith Links Community Council will continue to work together with the Residents Association and I promise to raise the communities concerns strongly at the next Seafield Stakeholders meeting scheduled for 260419

Jim

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