Potential Contamination due to Fly Tipping

On Friday 25th October, Portsmouth Water were informed by a member of the public that a large number of drums containing paint, paint thinners and solvents were fly tipped at 3 different locations in the Lovedean area.

Portsmouth Water contacted the Environment Agency immediately and attended the site. On arrival it was observed that a number of the drums were ruptured and  leaking, causing a real risk of contamination to the chalk aquifers below the surface.

The drums were in a location that was close to Portsmouth Water’s Lovedean borehole and Pumping Station. The potential pollution associated with the paint and solvents posed a real risk to the water supply and so Lovedean Pumping Station was turned off immediately. The water supply network was reconfigured to ensure customers’ supplies were unaffected by any potential risk of contamination and any loss of supply.

It was concluded that immediate action was necessary. The weather forecast was for heavy rain, it was late on a Friday and with the potential risk of contamination, Portsmouth Water took the decision to employ specialist environmental removal contractors (Adler and Allan) who arrived on site by 7pm that evening to start the process of removing the drums and cleaning up any contaminated land.

They worked throughout the night and in total, collected 174 metal drums, which were put in to safe storage ready for disposal.

By the morning of 26th October, all the drums were removed along with residual paint and solvent sludge. The quick action and removal of the pollutant lowered the risk of affecting water supplies sufficiently for Lovedean borehole to return to service late on Saturday and the Pumping Station was switched back on.

Bob Taylor, CEO of Portsmouth Water, said on the potential risk of contamination “I worry about the fact that these incidents are happening and that people don’t seem to understand that illegal dumping of chemicals like these can lead to longer term impacts on the underground aquifers. This is the single biggest risk we face as a business.”

“Whilst we will work with the Environment Agency and others to follow up this illegal dumping, the eyes and ears of our customers on the ground can be helpful in finding the culprits and bringing them to answer for what is an illegal activity and in this case an activity that could have caused great long term harm to the environment and water supplies.”

“I must add my thanks to our team for the quick and efficient way they reacted to this incident and it was only this quick response that prevented the incident escalating to something more serious.”