AD plant leak at Harper Adams
Thursday 21 February 2013
A leak from an anaerobic digester at a Land-based College in Shropshire has polluted nearby waterways.
Waste from an AD plant at Harper Adams University College leaked into a tributary of the River Strine near the University on Tuesday (19th February). The leak was reportedly in a storage tank containing digestate used for fertiliser.
The Environment Agency and emergency services were called to the incident when members of staff noticed the leakage. EA officers have begun oxygenating water at the meeting of the Rivers Strine and Tern, though officials said that no environmental damage has been reported so far.
The Agency said on Wednesday that design features intended to prevent leaked material reaching water had failed when leaked material ran into a field next to the plant, but that it had intervened to prevent further waste material entering waters. Waste running into water courses can lead to eutrophication, whereby algae in the water multiply rapidly in response to added nutrients, leading to a lack of oxygen and the death of other forms of aquatic life.
Harper Adams' Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn said on Wednesday, "We regret to report that we suffered a leak of digestate from a storage tank on our AD system yesterday afternoon and evening. Staff from the University worked extremely hard during the night to ensure the incident was managed in co-operation with the local authorities."
He added, "We are working closely with the Environment Agency and local services to ensure that a full clean-up operation is under way. We are actively investigating the cause of the leak but it is too early to comment further on the exact nature of the problem."
The AD plant was built in 2011 to provide renewable energy and digestate, a by-product which could be used as fertiliser on the University farm. Harper Adams has been awarded funding to pursue other avenues of research into AD.