Renewed calls for tunnel as Environment Agency publish alarming figures
Shocking new figures showing that more than 1 million cubic metres of raw sewage was pumped into the Thames during the storms at the end this June have been revealed.
The figures, obtained from the Environment Agency, show that between the 24th June and the 29th June 2005, 1,033,000 cubic metres of untreated sewage was dumped into the river due to the inability of London's sewers to cope with the storms that hit the capital in the last week in June.
The report prompted immediate calls for Mayor Ken Livingstone to lobby Ministers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to stop stalling and reverse their decision to postpone the 'interceptor' tunnel, which would prevent the regular deluges of raw sewage into the Thames. The delay in building the tunnel has already increased estimated costs from £600m to £1.5bn.
The pumping of the sewage into the Thames led to a massive reduction in the oxygen levels in the river, which according to the Environment Agency, led to the death of some aquatic wildlife.
Liberal Democrat Mike Tuffrey said "These figures are an absolute disgrace. Londoners are having to put up with huge amounts of sewage being pumped into the Thames every week. It is bad for the environment, bad for human health and bad for the image of our city.
"It is incredible that despite all the predictions that global warming would cause more violent storms and heavier downpours, London's sewer system is totally unprepared and unable to cope and pumping millions of tones of raw sewage into the Thames. The dumping of raw sewage into the Thames is something that happened in the Victorian era. It certainly should not be happening in the 21st century in one of the most developed capital city's in the world.
"There must be no more discussion, delay or dithering on building this interceptor tunnel. The longer Ministers drag their feet in making the inevitable decision to build the tunnel, the more this will ultimately cost the taxpayer to build."
Representatives of the the Thames Tideway Strategy group revealed at last night's Chiswick Area Committee meeting that Homefield Recreation Ground had been identified as a possible site for a major engineering project.
Chiswick's Homefield Recreation was earmarked as a site for one of the proposed tunnel shafts. The shaft would act as an entry point for the construction of the massive interceptor tunnel under the Thames. The size of the project would mean that this open space would become a construction site for several years.
The Thames Tideway Strategy is a three-year project set up to assess the environmental impact of sewage discharges into the River Thames during major storm conditions, and to identify, consider, and cost possible solutions to the issue. The strategic study is a joint initiative by Thames Water, the Environment Agency, DEFRA, Ofwat and the GLA.
July 26, 2005