Fears allayed over sludge health risk

SCOTTISH Water has categorically dismissed suggestions that a sludge site in Cupar could pose a health risk.

Media reports this week named the site as one of a number throughout Scotland that could be contaminated by aluminium used in a compound to clean impurities in the days when regional councils took responsibility for water and sewage services.

Links have been made with breast cancer, Alzheimers and other health problems.

However, a spokesman for Scottish Water, which took over the sludge sites 10 years ago, said that the residents of Cupar had absolutely nothing to fear.


He said that the site, which is situated next to the town’s wastewater treatments works at Cupar Trading Estate, was so tiny that trying to get a sludge sample had proved almost impossible.

A Scottish Water expert had been dispatched to carry out an environmental survey in the light of the concerns raised - but it had taken him four hours to find it as the site was now indistinguishable from soil.

Reports of ‘sludge lagoons’ throughout Scotland arose as a result of a report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) that raised concerns about traces of aluminium and other pollutants.

SEPA east region area manager Colin Anderson described the risk to the public as ‘low’ and said that the organisation would work with Scottish Water to investigate.

And the Scottish Water spokesman told the Fife Herald that given the nature of the material and the historic nature of the sites, it was not believed they present a particular risk.

“Water and waste water sludge arises from the treatment of water for drinking and the treatment of society’s waste water,” he said.


“Our focus is always to ensure we manage the material in a sustainable way.

“Predominantly, these sites stored water and wastewater sludge within drying beds.

“For wastewater sludge, it is recognised that the most sustainable means to manage this material is to recycle it to land to conserve the organic and nutrient properties.

“Work is ongoing at Cupar and current investigations indicate no environmental risk from the sludge. There is a relatively small amount stored at the site and it is safely landscaped.

“Since March we have been undertaking a proactive study in conjunction with SEPA to assess these historic sites in order to inform any actions required and ensure they continue to be well managed and environmentally sustainable facilities.”