Mystery continues over ‘frightening’ red-orange water at Westburn Park

Councillor Bill Cormie is concerned about the cost of clearing the pond in Westburn Park, which has been turned red-orange three times in recent weeks by silt.

The curious case of the scarlet water at Westburn Park remains unsolved, as authorities look to have cleared the names of both prime suspects.

Construction firms Graham and Robertson, both building further up the Gilcomstoun Burn near Foresterhill, report that the government’s environmental watchdog has accepted they are not behind the clay-like residue in the pond in the popular city park.

The water has turned red-orange on at least three separate occasions in the last month but the running water has since cleared the evidence.

The pond at Westburn Park, Aberdeen, on the first occasion it turned red-orange recently.

Graham is the main contractor building the new £223 million Baird Family Hospital and Anchor Centre on Foresterhill health campus, and had been thought to be the most likely cause of the silt release into the waterway.

An NHS Grampian spokesman told The P&J: “Following a comprehensive assessment, there is no evidence of any contamination coming from the Baird and Anchor sites.

“We continue with daily active monitoring to ensure that does not change.”

The Gilcomstoun Burn is open part of the way through the hospital grounds, before disappearing underground – and what can be seen is still running clear there, according to a Graham spokesman.

Robertson said neither work on Aberdeen University’s new £40 million Bio Hub at Foresterhill or on housing at nearby Burnside Gardens was at a stage to bring up silt and residue, with a spokeswoman saying they had been given a “clean bill of health” by Sepa.

But Midstocket and Rosemount councillor Bill Cormie expressed concerns about the continuing mystery to council officials last week.

Last night he said: “At the end of the day it may only be silt or clay, but someone will have to pay for it to be cleaned up out the bottom of the pond.

“It’s been very frightening for park users who didn’t know what was coming down the burn, dogs coming out covered in clay – it’s not acceptable and we have to get a grip of this.

“Officers have been in touch with Sepa and are waiting for results coming back, we all hope it is just clay residue rather than contamination.”

Hospital construction firm commits to cleaning surrounding roads

Contractor Graham has accepted workers need to do more to keep streets surrounding Foresterhill in Aberdeen clean.

Meanwhile, Graham has admitted responsibility for the state of the streets around the hospital which have been used as an exit route for big lorries carrying piles of earth away.

Cars and windows in Camperdown Road have been clarted in mud and dust, as the trailers on the heavy vehicles have not always been covered.

A spokesman for the Northern Irish firm told The P&J last night: “Once this was brought to our attention at the beginning of the week, we acted quickly and have ensured that all site traffic is now being routed via Westburn Drive and Mounthooly.

“In addition, we are using on-site lorry wash facilities and checking that all vehicle loads are covered to minimise dust.

“We are also using a full-time road sweeper on the roads within the campus and on perimeter routes.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience and are confident that the situation will now be resolved.”

A spokesman for Sepa said: “Since last week, Sepa has not received any further reports from members of the public regarding discolouration entering the pond system at Westburn Park in Aberdeen.

“Our investigations to identify the source of any pollution entering the water environment are ongoing. We have engaged with a number of sites in the area to ensure that mitigation measures are suitable to prevent any pollution leaving the sites.

“We encourage any members of the public who witness water discolouration in the burn to contact Sepa as soon as possible so our officers can take prompt action.

“Any potential pollution incidents can be reported using our 24-hour online form at or by contacting the Pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

Source: The Press and Journal, 4th March 2021