Waste plea for County Durham businesses, following contamination threat.

Businesses in a County Durham village are being urged to help take care of the environment after a release of oil into the area’s sewers reached Northumbrian Water’s Sacriston sewage treatment works and a local watercourse, the Black Burn.

While the pollution was largely caught and isolated by the sewage treatment works, minimising any resulting issues, the warning is being issued to inspire better practice and greater responsibility.

Around 1,000 litres of oil entered the sewage system in less than half a day in March, and was captured in the treatment works’ primary tanks, ensuring any pollution threat was minimised.

The cost of removing the oil, classed as a hazardous waste, from the works, and its safe disposal, is considerable. Northumbrian Water has the right to pass these costs onto those responsible and such incidents can become the subject of legal action.


Businesses in and around the area are being asked to take greater care to help avoid further incidents and potential problems for treatment works. The works serve 814 properties, including a wide range of non-domestic users. Business sewage – that which is not of a domestic nature – must, by law, only be disposed of in compliance with relevant consent from the sewerage owners and managers, in this case Northumbrian Water.

Anthony Wilson, Technical Advisor at Northumbrian Water, said: “With approximately 1,000 litres of oil entering into the sewerage system, the impact on the sewage treatment works and potential to contaminate the watercourse would have been much higher if it had not been captured in our tanks.

“Although the sewage treatment works reduce the potential for such problems, it is important that people handle all waste responsibly. Both Northumbrian Water and the Environment Agency take breaches of this nature very seriously, but so should all domestic and commercial customers.

“We encourage businesses in Sacriston to take great care in how they dispose of any waste and to contact our customer team if they need further advice.

– Source Northumbrian Water –

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