Burst pipe repairs ‘making good progress’ but ‘no swim’ warnings still in place across eight Fylde coast beaches following sewage leak
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United Utilities said untreated sewage, mixed with rainwater, was released from its water treatment plant in Fleetwood.
A burst pipe during a severe thunderstorm meant the system was overwhelmed as 1.7 inches (44mm) of rain fell in two hours.
The company said it was carrying out urgent repair work to the pipe, which carries water 5km out to sea after it has been treated and cleaned.
On Friday (June 23), United Utilities confirmed the warnings remained in place, but work to repair the pipe was “making good progress”.
But they warned “any further rainfall could lead to further operation of storm overflows this weekend”.
“Therefore, the precautionary advice not to swim in the sea along the Fylde Coast remains in place over this weekend,” a spokesman said.
“Bypass pipework is now in place and operational, with teams carrying out checks and balances to safely bring the bypass pipe up to full flow.
“The fractured section of pipe which is nine metres underground has been isolated to enable the repair to take place, and this has started today.
“When the bypass pipe is up to full flow, Fleetwood wastewater treatment works will be able to run at its full capacity.”
About 100 tankers a day have been used to take sewage away from sites in the area.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mark Garth, the director of water waste treatment at the firm, insisted the clean-up operation was near completion.
He told the show: “The number of people, number of experts and equipment involved are something that's never been seen before
“We're very close. We're about 95 per cent complete.”
The Environment Agency’s ‘no swim’ warnings remained in place on Friday (June 23).
A spokesperson from the Agency said: “While bathing is currently advised against, the beaches along the Fylde Coast remain open.
“We are continuing to regularly monitor water quality along the coast to help inform decisions about when the current advice against swimming can be removed.
“Polluting our seas and rivers is unacceptable and we are carrying out a detailed investigation into this incident along the Fylde Coast.”
Appearing on BBC Radio 4, Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams said the issue was “incredibly disappointing and really worrying”.
She added: “We're just at the start of our summer season with some glorious weather and we’re faced with having to put out advisory notices telling people not to go into the sea because of the discharges of sewage.
United Utilities was responsible for around a fifth of all sewage spills into English waters last year, accounting for around 69,000 spills, Environment Agency data shows.
The beaches affected by the notice are:
- Blackpool Central
- Blackpool North
- Blackpool South
- Cleveleys beach
- St Annes
- St Annes North