Data shows shellfish areas around the UK were polluted by human sewage thousands of times over the past year.
People who ate fish could be at risk of being poisoned by E.coli or norovirus.
Regulator Offwater and the government-run Environment Agency announced an investigation last week after water giants admitted they could be pumping sewage into England’s rivers and watercourses.
The Tegan River in Devon is claimed to have been the worst affected of the shellfishing areas, with 2,198 cases of sewage contamination.
The Ribble River in North Yorkshire and Lancashire was worst affected, with 1,713 incidents.
Overall, water companies allowed raw or partially treated sewage to flow into rivers and watersheds or the ocean for a total of more than 3.9 million hours last year. top of pops website, which uses official figures from the Environment Agency.
But these figures are also underestimated, as this data is “poorly collected by water companies, with faulty monitoring or in many cases completely absent”.
The data shows that sewage-contaminated areas where shellfish were found more than 30,000 times last year. Shellfish may become unfit for human consumption if contaminated by sewage due to health risks.
This coincides with a report by Surfers Against Sewage which found that water companies are increasing the discharge of harmful sewage into our seas and rivers, with disastrous consequences for the environment.
Water companies issued 5,517 sewage discharge notifications in the 12-month period till September this year, an increase of 87.6 percent.
In July, Southern Water was fined a record £90m for dumping 21 billion liters of raw sewage into the sea from 2010-2015.
More than 10,000 contaminated oysters are believed to have entered the food chain and dogs became violently ill after swimming in the ocean.
Canterbury Crown Court heard that the Environment Agency found high levels of faecal matter, E.coli and norovirus.
This summer, when customers reported suffering from norovirus, the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company had to stop selling oysters, prompting bosses to warn that sewage leaks could threaten the shellfish companies’ businesses.
Industry leaders say it is safe to buy from licensed fishermen who clean bacterial shellfish but anyone who catches them to eat them is at risk.
Last month the government sparked a fury to take more serious action against pumping raw sewage into rivers and seas, eventually succumbing to pressure and making a U-turn.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it is working with water companies to ensure overflows are properly controlled and “prevent the damage they cause to the environment”.
He said that monitoring of sewerage network has increased 14 times in the last five years. “Over the next four years, water companies will launch 800 investigations and over 800 improvement plans to prevent overflow. The Storm Overflow Taskforce is also considering further ways to reduce the damage caused by these overflows.”
Water UK, on behalf of the water firms, said it could not comment on fisheries figures, but on the Surfers Against Sewage report, a spokesperson said: “Water companies are working to protect and enhance our rivers and seas. recognizes the urgent need for action,” adding that its recent report called on the government to bring in a new Rivers Act, providing more protection for rivers.
“We know we need to go further and water companies want to invest more in improving infrastructure and preventing damage from storm overflows and outfalls.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /