Advice remains in place today (June 21) for members of the public not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark at a number of Thanet beaches.
This follows a wastewater release at the Southern Water Margate Wastewater Pumping Station overnight June 16/17 due to a lightning strike and recent heavy rainfall.
In liaison with the Environment Agency, advice against bathing is in place at the following bays:
- Minnis Bay
- West Bay
- St Mildreds Bay
- Margate Main Sands
- Walpole Bay
- Palm Bay
- Botany Bay
- Kingsgate Bay
- Joss Bay
Signs remain in place at these bays to inform beach users.
A clean up operation around the coast led by Southern Water has continued throughout the weekend. Efforts remain in place to ensure that the beaches are cleaned before the advice is lifted.
Thanet District Council teams have been out since the incident occurred to assess the impact on the coast. Evidence from ongoing visual inspections is showing an improving picture and the council is hopeful the advice will be lifted soon.
Council Leader, Cllr Ash Ashbee has written to the Chief Executive of Southern Water to express her concerns following the incident.
In the letter Cllr Ashbee says expresses “utter dismay” at the pumping station failure.
She adds: “Given the repetitive failure of this plant for over a decade, I do not accept that an act of God is in any way an excuse for this latest environmental and financial disaster in our district.
“Surely your company has an emergency protocol in place to mitigate against any such eventuality at what is a critical part of your infrastructure.
“In a court case in September 2016, Judge Adele Williams, who imposed a £2m fine on Southern Water, said: “The message must go out to directors and shareholders that repeated offending of this nature is wholly unacceptable.”
“Also, she added Southern Water’s problems at Margate had first been identified in 2010. However, yet again, we find ourselves back in the same catastrophic situation with beaches closed and businesses that are struggling to recover from the pandemic, losing tens of thousands of pounds in trade.
“Despite Southern Water Director Simon Oates at the time apologising unreservedly for the failure at Foreness Point, and confirming since 2012 that £4m had been invested in the site and a further £6m investment plan was in place, you clearly have not resolved the issue.
“On behalf of the residents and businesses of Thanet I request that Southern Water recognises its failures and compensates both TDC for the costs incurred with the clean-up operation and all local businesses for their loss of trade.
“I invite you to address TDC Members at a briefing to firstly, explain the failure at Foreness and secondly, what guarantees you are prepared to give that this situation will not reoccur and what steps you will be taking to ensure the same.”
Southern Water says the lightning strike caused a power outage and also disabled the telemetry systems, causing the discharge via the outfall. Power was restored to the site via power from the emergency generator but not in time to help the telemetry to control the site as intended.
A compensation scheme for local businesses has been made available by Southern Water and business owners affected by this incident are advised to make a claim.
Local businesses affected should contact Barry.Woodham@southernwater.co.uk