Sea swimmers surrounded by 'sewage' off Hartlepool beach
A group of swimmers were left shocked after being surrounded by ‘rafts of toilet tissue’ and ‘pads’ while taking a dip in the sea at Seaton Carew beach.
The open water swimmers claimed they found themselves “swimming through large quantities of toilet tissue, pads and various other items” at Seaton Carew beach on Wednesday, March 3.
Geoff Lilley, a member of a seaside swimming group said that some friends were out swimming when they came across what they thought was ‘sewage.’
He said: “There was no pollution alert or evidence of a discharge at high water this morning [Thursday, March 4].
"It is possible either a release occurred on the high tide or that the discharge was from another source. Either way it's not acceptable.”
Mr Lilley presumed the sewage had come from a Northumbrian Waters outfall pipe but has since found a chemical toilet on Seaton beach which is believed to be a potential source of the waste.
The open water member, along with other seaside swimmers say it's "not a one off incident".
Northumbrian Water said the sewage could have been brought in by the tide from a past weather event such as heavy rainfall when storm overflows are used as a relief valve with consent from the Environment Agency and any debris is cleaned up by teams.
The water company say they regularly carry out checks of the beach at Seaton Carew and clean up anything they find.
A spokesperson for Northumbrian Water said: “We’re very sorry to hear about the experience of these swimmers.
“Our last consented discharge in this area was on February 26 and there have been no unconsented discharges. Coastal discharges impacting on our region’s bathing waters are reported for inclusion on the Surfers Against Sewage Safer Seas App. So, we believe the items encountered by the swimmers on this occasion may have been brought in by the tide from a past weather event.”
Northumbrian water added that in the last Bathing Water classifications by Defra, Seaton Carew was one of 33 North East designated bathing waters which achieved either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ ratings.
The spokesperson added that it’s “disappointing” when the water is accompanied by plastics and wet wipes which the company urge people never put into their network due to their inability to break down.