April 22, 2007 / 2:40 PM / 11 years ago

Sewage floods into Firth of Forth

LONDON (Reuters) - The public have been warned to avoid contact with water in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh in Scotland after the discharge of millions of litres of untreated sewage.

People going to the shore have been told to make sure they thoroughly wash their hands before eating following the spillage from an emergency outflow at Leith after a pumping station failed.

The sewage has been pouring into the sea at a rate of 1,000 litres a second since 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Thames Water, which runs the station in a consortium on behalf of Scottish Water, said engineers hoped to stem the flow by Sunday evening.

They were working to install two temporary pumps after the failure of a pump which normally sends the sewage to the nearby Seafield final treatment plant.

The sewage has already been diluted and screened to remove solid material but the BBC said local people had reported finding human waste on the shore.

Gordon Greenhill, head of community safety at Edinburgh City Council, told BBC television there should be no long-term environmental risk from the spillage.

“This is a short-term problem. The capacity of nature to deal with things will deal with that,” he said.

Once the flow was shut off the sewage would disperse and be diluted in the North Sea, he added.

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