A SHETLAND based salmon farm has been found in breach of environmental regulations when effluent from blood water tanks was discharging down a bank and into Mid Yell Voe, in August last year.
However, the operator of the Mid Yell salmon packing plant, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, insisted that the company had never discharged untreated wastewater into the sea and requested the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to correct errors in its report.
SEPA inspectors were called to Mid Yell on 14 August 2017 following complaints of an “offensive odour” coming from the plant.
They found the facility’s blood water treatment plant not operating properly and producing an “offensive odour”.
At the time, SEPA also said that “it was also evident that small amounts of effluent from the blood water storage tanks was discharging directly to Mid Yell Voe, without treatment, via what were assumed overflow pipes”.
In a report SEPA rated Cooke Aquaculture’s non-compliance with environmental regulations as “gross” and twice as “significant”.
The breaches came to light following Freedom of Information requests by campaigner Don Staniford from the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture.
Staniford called on the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) to expel Cooke Aquaculture due to breaches of the industry’s code of practice relating to the spread of infectious diseases.
In a statement the Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture said: “The odour came from treated water foam in a manhole at the facility.
“The wastewater had been treated through two filter processes and ozonation. The wastewater had an odour but it was not untreated as the SEPA report states.
“The company corrected the odour issue immediately in August. Among those measures, the manhole was heightened to ensure no future leakage of any materials.
“Cooke also implemented a regular filter cleaning schedule and added lids to their holding tanks, which aid in containing odours.”
SEPA chief office Anne Anderson said: “SEPA’s report was based on the information supplied by the operator at the time of the inspection in August.
“The company has since advised that the discharge from the manhole was treated, and is in the process of providing information to support this. The fact remains the discharge should not have happened.”
“At a meeting between Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and SEPA, the operator agreed immediate actions to address odour and effluent discharge, including improved cleaning of the filtration system, alterations to a manhole cover and improved bunding.
“The operator, who responded swiftly, has confirmed that all agreed actions have been completed and has supplied evidence to prove this. We are satisfied that our requirements have been met and an inspection will be carried out in due course.
“SEPA is continuing to work with Cooke Aquaculture Scotland to ensure the site is compliant with all regulations and licences.”
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