“Orange” water metal pollution solved. Good News for Saltburn Gill. Former Ironstone Mine.

Ironstone Working. Metal Rich Waters

POLLUTION of bathing water at Saltburn beach by metallic water from old mines will be almost eradicated by a new treatment scheme.

Historic mines in the area have been polluting the beach with iron and even turned a stream – Saltburn Gill – a bright shade of orange in 1999 when a large mine water outbreak flowed into it.

Ironstone Working.  Metal Rich Waters
Ironstone Working. Metal Rich Waters

Now the Coal Authority has worked out that a new treatment scheme, which is now operational, has the potential to boost the economy by £10.5million over the next 25 years.

It will help remove more than 98 per cent of metals from the mine water before it is put back into local waterways, helping improve biodiversity and water quality at Saltburn – one of the most popular surfing beaches on the east coast.

The east Cleveland area saw large-scale deep mining for over 100 years. When ironstone mining operations stopped in the 1960s, the pumps that removed water from the mines were turned off and removed.

Water made its way into the old mine workings and eventually reached the surface, allowing the iron to enter the streams.

Although not harmful to people, the iron ochre caused severe pollution to both streams, discoloured the beach and sometimes caused an orange plume to form in the North Sea.

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “This work has finally seen success in clearing up this watercourse from this unsightly reminder of our mining past. It will help boost our local economy by making Saltburn the jewel in the crown of East Cleveland’s seaside, benefiting both tourists and local businesses.”

The scheme, funded by Defra, has already helped fish such as the brown trout and European Bullhead return to the area.

Jim Wingham, Saltburn Gill Action Group Chairman said: “We’re proud of the fact that we helped to provide the solution to ridding our community of this serious pollution and of the way that many organisations worked together to achieve our goal.”

The action group worked with the Environment Agency to get funding for initial investigations into the cause of the pollution, then for the treatment scheme.

Source:  The Northern Echo 3rd July 2016