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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Jacob Farr

East Lothian Council say clean up operation still underway at polluted River Esk

East Lothian Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have issued an update on the ongoing pollution problem in the River Esk.

The problem which was first reported on Friday January 14 in Musselburgh has led to a massive clean up effort by the local authority and environment agency.

The council has revealed that in the past few days, a specialist contractor has been brought in to support the clean-up attempts by installing and renewing booms in the watercourse that help to contain contamination.

Alongside this, the work has allowed for a tanker to access the impacted area in order to remove as much polluted material as possible.

It is understood that work has also been carried out in order to remove contaminated material from manholes that will allow for SEPA to undertake camera investigations.

A temporary weir has also been put in place and it is believed that officers continue to keep an eye on the area in person.

The council say that although good progress has been made, they note that residents may still spot contaminated residual material in the water/downstream. It is understood that this may take days to clear.

They also urged members of the public, in the interest of health and safety, to avoid areas where officers/contractors are working.

Sharon Saunders, head of communities, East Lothian council, said: “This has been a very concerning pollution incident and we are grateful to local residents for their understanding and support.

“Officers have been working hard since last Friday to contain the pollution with work continuing to take place, supported by our contractor, to progress clean-up work.

“Work is likely to continue in the days ahead and we’ll continue to closely monitor the situation, with a sharp focus on protecting the natural environment. We are continuing to work closely with and in support of SEPA, as the response to the incident continues.”

Responding to the incident, SEPA and the council are being supported by Scottish Water and the Scottish SPCA.

SEPA is understood to be carrying out a range of investigations and assessments to trace the source of the pollution - with officers are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry.

Water samples have been taken from several locations and are being analysed by SEPA scientists to identify a range of contaminants found which will help to identify the source.

Survey activity carried out by SEPA ecologists to understand the impact of the pollution incident on the River Esk and its affected tributary has shown that while the receiving burn is currently heavily impacted, sampling in the River Esk shows that the short-term impact on the river is low.

Chris Dailly, SEPA's head of environmental improvement, said: “We know this pollution incident has been very concerning for local communities and are very grateful to people for their information, support and understanding during this incident.

“SEPA officers are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry in what is a complex incident and continue to provide advice and support to East Lothian Council.

“We will provide as much information as we can, within the restrictions of a live investigation. What is important is that our investigation is thorough, with our work done to a high evidential standard.”

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