Campaigner’s fears over minewater pollution off Sunderland coast

Bob Latimer on Whitburn Beach, concerns over sewage
Bob Latimer on Whitburn Beach, concerns over sewage
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AN environmental campaigner has hit out at plans to pump millions of gallons of potentially polluted mine water into the sea.

The Coal Authority project, aimed at protecting drinking water from contamination, plans to set up a pumping station at the former Whitburn Colliery to reduce rising levels of mine water from undersea collieries which closed in the early 1990s.

The Coal Authority says that if water continues to rise, it could contaminate drinking water of up to 30,000 residents in Sunderland and South Tyneside, and wants to use an existing borehole to abstract mine water from coal workings 190 metres below ground.

The water would then be discharged directly into the sea through a new pipe.

A “drop in” session is being held at Whitburn Library on Thursday between 1.30pm and 7pm, where the plans can be scrutinised as part of an ongoing consultation.

But environmentalist, Bob Latimer, 71, said this decision could affect families for generations to come.

He said: “The Coal Authority are applying to pump 2,500 tons a day of so-called untreated mine water into the sea.

“It will not affect me, but it will affect the children of the future, it is disappointing that Natural England, National Trust and the other agencies say nothing. If it were a small local firm wanting to do this, they would be outraged.”

John Delaney, corporate manager with The Coal Authority, said: “This is an important project to prevent rising mine water from polluting the aquifer which supplies drinking water to areas of Sunderland and South Tyneside.

“The 300kg per day figure is the basis of our present application to the Environment Agency. We wish to stress that under normal operating conditions we will only be pumping half this amount of water and iron.

The pumping station plans will go before South Tyneside Council’s Place Select Committee for consideration at a later date.