Water bosses spray Sunderland sewage trucks with ‘bubblegum’ scent in bid to beat the pong

Northumbrian Water Sewage Works at the Port of Sunderland, Hendon.
Northumbrian Water Sewage Works at the Port of Sunderland, Hendon.
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TRUCKS carrying tonnes of waste now smell of “bubblegum” after water board chiefs took action against a smelly problem.

The Echo reported in August that residents living either side of the River Wear were having their lives plagued by the stench of waste coming from Northumbrian Water’s sewage works, at the Port of Sunderland in Hendon.

Northumbrian Water admitted that malfunctioning gates at the plant had been the source of the issue and apologised.

The facility processes between 90 and 100 tonnes of sludge a day, which is then sent to Teesside and Newcastle.

At a previous meeting of East End Residents’ Community Association, at Chance Community Centre in Rickaby Street, members agreed to keep “odour diaries”, detailing times when the pongs were present in the air, so that they could be analysed to get to the root of the problem.

However, Marion Dixon, of the environmental health department at Sunderland City Council, told the latest residents’ gathering this week that there had been just one recorded instance of smells being a problem since being highlighted in August.

Alec Llewellyn, sludge manager at Northubrian Water, said that over the past three months, £5,000-worth of improvements had been made at the plant, and to wagons carrying the sludge, to minimise the risk of residents suffering from bad smells.

“We have carried out internal audits and two smoke tests which we did in the plant found loads of holes or gaps which have now been filled,” he said.

“The odour extraction system has been boosted, so it is four times the size it was.”

Mr Llewellyn added: “Concerning the smell from the wagons, we are now spraying the wheels with a bubblegum-type smell, which is done by a worker with a backpack on before the trucks leave the plant.”

Chairman of the meeting Shirley Williams said: “We have to say thank you, because I think that’s a great achievement, and let’s hope next year you don’t have to come back and report to us on the same kind of problems.”

Any residents who notice bad smells in their area are urged to call the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.