Sewage spill makes Oban beach a no-go zone

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Worried dog walkers have declared a popular Oban beach a no-go zone after their pets got sick drinking sewage water.

Posters have now gone up at Wee Ganavan warning others to stay away or at least be aware of the danger.

The problem was first reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in February but sewage is still spilling onto the beach through a pipe from private septic tanks from nearby houses.

Home owners in Ganavan Road have now had letters from SEPA and Argyll and Bute Council asking them to check their septic tanks.

Nicky Kemp and Marta Mirecka have both been complaining to the authorities after their dogs got ill and are angry it is taking so long to stop the leaking discharge that often stinks. They told The Oban Times they are worried young children could also get sick from playing on the beach.

Someone has since piled small rocks, topped by a plant, on top of the pipe end on the beach but the discharge still runs through it.

‘The discharge from the pipe is disgusting. I’ve seen it green, sometimes it’s cloudy and slimy. It’s obvious what’s in it. It just runs out of the pipe and onto the beach. Even when it dries up, it’s still there in the sand. It’s a hazard,’ said Ms Mirecka.

‘It’s not just dogs we are worried about, it’s children too. People need to be aware so they can stay safe,’ added Ms Kemp.

Neither of the women’s dogs needed to be treated by a vet but they were very sick.

‘I’m not risking it. I’m avoiding coming to this beach now,’ said Ms Mirecka.

Ms Kemp said: ‘I thought it was illegal for any kind of effluent to come on to a beach. SEPA and the council should be pulling their fingers out to do more about this.’

A local spokesperson for Surfers Against Sewage told The Oban Times: ‘Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated problem. It’s happening all over Argyll.

‘When you report a spill to SEPA, although they try to help, it’s clear they are overwhelmed by this and can do very little about it. It needs people with older septic tanks to step up to their responsibility, keep a check on their systems and get them cleaned out regularly. Also, don’t put things in them that will block them, causing more problems.’

A SEPA spokesperson said: ‘Responsibility for maintaining a private septic tank falls to the homeowner and letters have been issued to households in the area advising owners to inspect their systems and ensure discharges do not impact on the surrounding environment.

‘SEPA will continue to monitor the situation alongside the local authority.’

People can report further sightings of sewage to SEPA’s Pollution Hotline on 0800 807060.