Hastings sewage leak: Bulverhythe hut owner 'devastated'

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Southern Water said it will restore the huts to their previous stateImage source, Kevin Boorman
Image caption,
Southern Water said it will restore the huts to their previous state

A beach hut owner in an area flooded with raw sewage said it is "devastating" to the environment and has ruined people's summer.

The large sewage pipe burst on Wednesday at Bulverhythe beach, Hastings, East Sussex.

The pipe was turned off for repairs, but on Friday was turned back on and allowed to leak again, in order to prevent flooding elsewhere.

Catherine Tajima-Powell said: "I'm going home to cry, it's devastating."

Image caption,
Catherine Tajima-Powell said the sea is 'everything' to the town

The pipe carries more than of 540 litres of sewage per second.

Southern Water is continuing repairs over the weekend with specialist contractors, and pledged to restore or replace damaged property.

Ms Tajima-Powell said the waste had soaked into the shingle, polluting areas with protected plants, and is seeping into the back of her hut.

'Beyond shocking'

"I don't know how they can possibly clean it up", she said. "The sea and our beaches are everything to our industry and community."

She accused the company of not maintaining its infrastructure.

"Southern Water has a record of regularly releasing sewage into the sea. It must stop," she added.

In July Southern Water was fined a record £90m for deliberately dumping sewage into the sea at 17 sites from Hampshire across to Kent.

In June seven beaches around Margate, Kent, had to be closed after a South Water sewage leak, as a result of storm damage to a pumping station

Image source, Kevin Boorman
Image caption,
Southern Water and Hastings Borough Council are working together to contain the leak

Hut owners pay Hastings Borough Council about £1,900 in annual fees, but Ms Thaima-Powell said the huts "can't be valued" because of the joy they give people, especially since the pandemic.

"This is such an important place for people. Our summer is ruined.

"Let's face it we aren't going anywhere else, are we?"

Paul Barnett, deputy leader of the council, said: "We are looking forward to sitting down with Southern Water and the Environment Agency and understanding exactly what happened here, and how they can assure us it won't happen again."

Image source, Kevin Boorman
Image caption,
The number of tankers being used to collect the waste and bypass the pipe has doubled

The damaged section of sewer was removed on Saturday and work began to install a replacement section.

CCTV footage from up and down the remaining sewer pipe is being analysed by specialist engineers to ensure there are no other issues.

On Friday Dominic Hallett, Southern Water's operational control manager said: "No pollution is acceptable to our customers or us and we apologise for the disruption.

"We are committed to making the repair as quickly as possible and to minimising impact on the environment."

Southern Water admitted nearly 7,000 illegal spills between 2010 and 2015.

It has been ranked by the Environment Agency as among the worst performing water companies for pollution incidents.

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