BROKEN sewage gates are causing an almighty stink for residents living near the River Wear.
A Northumbrian Water facility at the Port of Sunderland in Hendon, which tankers use to remove sludge, has been experiencing problems in the past couple of days.
The malfunction means those living in homes on either side of the river have had to put up with the smell of sewage.
Water board chiefs say they have decided to stop tankers using the facility, which produces 9,000 tonnes of sludge cake each year, until the problem is sorted.
Mum-of-two Carole Rutherford, who works for Autism in Mind, says the stench, coupled with the sweltering temperatures of the current heatwave, has made her and her neighbours’ lives a nightmare during the past few days.
Ms Rutherford, 56, of Pilgrim Close, near the Stadium of Light, said she first noticed the smell 10 days ago before it reappeared on Wednesday.
She said: “I’ve had to go and take a fan down to my mother’s because she is melting from the heat anyway, but the smell is making it a lot worse.
“It seems to come in waves, and when it does it’s absolutely vile.”
“It’s been bad for us, but worse over St Peter’s and the Glass Centre area – I don’t know those people are coping at the minute.
“I rang the council about this and was told by environmental health that it is not a health hazard.
“But I’d suggest it is a health hazard when it’s this hot, and people are having to close their doors and windows because of the smell.
“It’s been abominable.”
A spokeswoman for Northumbrian Water said that engineers expect to fix the gates by the end of today.
She said: “We have got a problem with the door on the building that tankers drive into to fill up with sewage sludge, and because the door is not closing properly, the sewage odour is escaping.
“The repair to the door is being carried out now, and we will get it completed as soon as possible, but in the meantime, we are not going to continue putting sludge into the tankers.”