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A tanker prepares to load raw sewage at the site of the leak on the Bulverhythe cycle/walkway.

Southern Water progresses Bulverhythe sewage leak repair

Work to fix the sewage leak behind Bulverhythe beach progressed over the weekend, while warnings were issued against swimming in the sea from local beaches. Meanwhile Southern Water says it will make good the damage caused to beach huts in the area of the leak. Nick Terdre reports.

Southern Water told HOT on Saturday that it was working round the clock to repair the leaking sewage pipe which runs beneath the cycle/walkway behind Bulverhythe beach. Although it was unable to say when the repair was likely to be completed, it reported in the afternoon that the damaged section of sewer had been removed and a replacement section was being installed.

“As part of our work on site we have also taken CCTV footage up and down the remaining sewer pipe and this will be analysed by specialist engineers to ensure there are no other issues with the integrity of the pipe. Our priority is to do all we can through our repairs to minimise the risk of a future incident like this,” it said.

While the repair is still under way, the raw sewage in the pipeline is being transferred to tankers for delivery to a wastewater treatment plant – some 30 tankers are participating in the operation. Blocking the pipe upstream of the leak was not an option, as this would cause the sewage to back up and eventually spill out in people’s houses, a spokesman told HOT.

Tankers queue to load up with raw sewage from the leaking pipeline (photo: Southern Water).

The burst, due to a broken collar connecting two sections of 900mm pipe, was first discovered and brought under control on Thursday, but possibly due to heavy overnight rain, leakage began again in the early hours of Friday. It was brought under control by 9am on Friday morning.

Southern Water has also carried out litter picks on the beach and washing of the area as part of efforts to ensure all debris is cleared away and the beach and its surroundings promptly restored.

Advice against swimming

On Saturday morning Hastings Borough Council said in a statement that Bulverhythe beach would remain closed until further notice, and drew attention to advice from the Environment Agency against swimming off Pelham or St Leonards’ beaches.

At the time of the burst, untreated sewage spread around the area, flooding some adjacent beach huts on the south side of the path – some huts sit directly on the ground while others are raised a short distance above it. While by Friday afternoon the effluents had seeped into the ground, the extent of flooding had been sufficient to move the sections of heavy wooden decking outside some of the huts by several feet.

The owner of a mini-hut located just in front of the line of beach huts said that while the spilt material had seeped into the ground, she was concerned it would re-emerge at some point within her hut.

“We will work with the beach hut owners to ensure they are able to enjoy their huts once more,” Southern Water said. One hut owner told HOT he had received a message from the council – this would be the conduit for putting the water company in contact with affected beach hut owners.

Meanwhile the section of path where the leak occurred remains closed off while repairs continue. Pedestrians seeking to get past the closed section are being diverted onto the beach where the flooding took place.

 

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Posted 00:15 Sunday, Aug 1, 2021 In: Local News

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