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Southern Water admits discharging raw sewage into sea off Margate

By Sian Napier

Raw sewage was discharged into the sea off Margate after pumps became blocked by unflushable items such as wet wipes during a storm.

Canterbury Crown Court, Southern Water admitted pumping the sewage into the water in June 2012. Sentence was adjourned until December 16.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Southern Water's director of operations Phil Barker said: "We apologise unreservedly for the failure of the waste water pumping station at Foreness Point near Margate in 2012.

Margate waste water pumping station
Margate waste water pumping station

"Since then we have invested £4 million in the site and have a further £6 million investment plan.

"We’re working hard with partners, including the Environment Agency and Thanet council, to ensure that the area’s bathing water is cleaner than ever.

"The majority of Thanet’s beaches regularly achieve excellent bathing water quality and have seven blue flags and three seaside awards between them.

"The beaches also consistently achieve excellent status in tourism surveys.

Foreness Point pumping station
Foreness Point pumping station

"We will continue to invest in the site and work with our partners to ensure Thanet’s bathing waters are clean now and in the future."

The statement said the offence happened during heavy storms when pumps at the station became blocked with large amounts of unflushable items such as wet wipes.

This meant the station was unable to pump the flows away for treatment quickly enough and due to the unprecedented volume of rain, it became overwhelmed.

Emergency measures had to be taken to release flows from outfall pipes to prevent wastewater flooding homes and gardens.

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