SEWAGE that has not been properly cleaned has been allowed by the government to be dumped into rivers and the sea over Brexit disruption.
The UK’s chronic lorry driver shortage means some businesses have found it more difficult to get hold of water treatment chemicals because of supply chain disruption at ports blamed primarily on Britain leaving the EU.
In a regulatory position statement issued on Tuesday, the Environment Agency introduced a waiver that would mean some companies would not have to go through the third stage in the treatment of sewage if they did not have the right chemicals.
The waiver relates to a feared shortage of availability of ferric sulphate, an acidic solution used to suppress the growth of algae, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
It said the temporary relaxation of the rules would last until the end of the year, with an extension possible. Defra said this would allow “discharges from water treatment works that cannot comply with permit conditions because of an unavoidable shortages of chemicals to treat effluent”.
Companies should “resume use of chemicals to treat effluent as soon as is practicable”, the Environment Agency said.
A government spokesperson said the water supply to consumers would not be affected and any waste company that wished to make use of the waiver needed prior approval from Defra.
It also said that no water company had yet notified it of a shortage of ferric sulphate but it was introducing the regulatory position as a precautionary measure.
A spokesperson for Water UK said the sector was experiencing “some disruption to the supply in England of ferric sulphate, a chemical used at some drinking and wastewater treatment sites” due to a shortage of HGV drivers.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has been contacted for comment.
The water treatment chemicals shortage is just the latest Brexit shortage as many European HGV specialists left at the outset of the pandemic and won’t return due to Brexit.
It’s led to empty shelves across supermarkets in Scotland and the rest of the UK, with industry experts warning that the problem is likely to get worse.
The UK Government has even suggested bringing in military personnel qualified to drive HGVs to deal with the issue.
As Scotland’s hospitality industry attempts to get back on its feet after 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are facing shortages due to the lack of staff at haulage companies.
Some pubs are reporting beer orders falling short by around 75% as others are being cancelled entirely.
Last month, Nandos was forced to close two Scottish sites due to a lack of food.
On social media, the company described the supply issues as a “bit of a ‘mare’” and asked customers to remain patient.
It also said that it would be sending 70 of its staff to help to sort the supply issues more rapidly.