Untreated sewage released into sea after storm as people told to stay away from Fylde beaches

  • Report by ITV News reporter Amy Welch

People are being urged to stay away from beaches until further notice on the Fylde coast after raw sewage was pumped into the sea during a storm.

United Utilities say the 'pollution incident' saw the sewage, mixed with rainwater, released into the sea after a pipe burst on Monday 12 June.

It effects beaches across the Fylde coast and the councils are urging people to stay out of the sea and keep pets clear of the water.

But, those on the affected beaches say there are no signs warning of the dangers, and bathers are being allowed to continue as if nothing was wrong.

One woman said: "There are no signs, no nothing, my girls are playing in the water, no clue that there's any sewage leakage issues at all, none."

"There should be signs up letting you know," another woman added. "You should be aware before you let your children in because you could have kids with skin conditions or anything."

What beaches are affected?

  • Bispham

  • Blackpool Central

  • Blackpool North

  • Blackpool South

  • Cleveleys beach

  • Fleetwood

  • St Annes

  • St Annes North

Unprecedented rainfall on 12 June caused the sewage to flood into the sea after a fractured pipe overflowed at Fleetwood Wastewater Treatment Works.

Urgent repair works are being carried out to the burst pipe, which carries water after it has been treated to the sea.

"We've been working really hard over the last three days, 24 hours a day, to try and get as much sewage as we can out of that system," Mark Garth, Wastewater Director, at United Utilities said.

"We've been using tankers taking three million litres a day out, we've been able to recommence treatment through the plant at about half the rate we would normally run at."

United Utilities says the treatment works is currently running at a reduced rate while engineers plan and carry out the repair work to the pipe, which lies nine metres underground.

  • Mark Grant, from United Utilities, explains the ongoing work to fix the problem

Due to the location and complexity of the repair and to ensure the work is carried out safely, it is expected to take some time while engineers install temporary pumps and 2,000 metres of overland pipework.

United Utilities is balancing storage levels in the wastewater network along the Fylde Coast and using tankers around the clock to help reduce pressure on the site by transporting wastewater to other treatment sites.

Mr Garth added: "This is a very unusual incident and our teams are working around the clock to minimise any impact on the environment.

"The burst occurred on a large pipe which is deep underground, making the repair complex and challenging.

"We are installing temporary overland pipework to bypass the burst pipe so that the treatment plant can continue to operate while the repair work is carried out.

"The reduced capacity at the treatment works and in our network as a result of this burst meant there was less storage available than normal to deal with the heavy rainfall last night. This resulted in storm overflows operating.

"We are working closely with the Environment Agency and local councils as we respond to this."

The 'swimfo' website is showing a warning for beaches on the Fylde coast Credit: Swimfo

Information on all 424 designated bathing water sites and any forecasted drops in water quality are published on the Swimfo: Find a Bathing Water website.

This provides immediate access to information on every bathing water in England.

Construction of the temporary overland pipework means that the neighbouring Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve is closed to the public until further notice.

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