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Raw sewage leak in Margate and Palm Bay sparks warning to stay out of water


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People are being told to stay out of the water along part of Kent's coast after raw sewage leaked into the sea after an incident at a pumping station.

The building in Margate was hit by lightning in last night's storm causing waste water to pump into the sea between Margate main sands and Joss Bay in Broadstairs.

Joss Bay, Broadstairs. Picture: Chris Davey
Joss Bay, Broadstairs. Picture: Chris Davey

Southern Water and the Environment Agency are currently looking into the impact of the incident, but in the meantime people are being told to stay out of the sea.

Beaches affected are Margate Main Sands, Walpole Bay, Palm Bay, Foreness, Botany Bay, Kingsgate Bay and Joss Bay.

A Thanet District Council spokesman confirmed the incident was caused by a lightning strike at Margate waste water pumping station.

"As a result of this incident waste water was released via the emergency outfall of the Southern Water pumping station at Foreness," she said.

"In liaison with the Environment Agency, the council is advising members of the public not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark on bays between Margate Main Sands and Joss Bay.

"Signs have been placed on these beaches and bays to inform beach users.

Walpole Bay tidal pool
Walpole Bay tidal pool

"Southern Water has confirmed that the pumping station is now operating as it should and will continue to be closely monitored.

"A clean up operation is now underway.

"We will continue to work closely with all of the agencies involved to understand the impacts of this incident and the Environment Agency will be carrying out water quality testing to inform the next steps.

"We will keep members of the public informed."

A Southern Water spokesman added: "We’re very sorry to report that due to a lightning strike at Margate Wastewater Pumping Station overnight, waste water was released via the emergency outfall into Palm Bay and Margate Sands.

"The site was damaged and suffered a power outage during the heavy storm, and the heavily diluted incoming flows were diverted through the outfall to prevent wastewater backing up and to protect local properties from internal flooding.

"A team had been placed at site in preparation for the bad weather, so was able to immediately begin work to restore services.

"A beach walk happened at first light and a clean-up is under way.

"No pollution is acceptable to us or our customers. We’re working with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the local authority to assess the impact on the environment."

She says a 20-strong team have made good progress on the clean-up of the Margate beach area.

MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay voiced his frustration about the situation on Twitter.

"I am increasingly annoyed that whenever we have a downpour, year on year, we have a problem with Southern Water.

"Particularly at Foreness Point in Margate which then blights our blue flag beaches for days.

"It’s not good enough and I don’t want to see yet another PR of drivel and excuses."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency says it is aware of an ongoing operational issue at Margate waste water pumping station and is working with Southern Water Services and Thanet District Council to assess any impacts and understand what has happened.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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