Big clean-up in Harper Adams pollution scare

A major clean-up operation was under way today after tons of farm waste leaked from a storage tank at a Shropshire university.

An Environment Agency worker tackles the pollution problem at Harper Adams University this afternoon
An Environment Agency worker tackles the pollution problem at Harper Adams University this afternoon

Officials from the Environment Agency were working to contain the spill from an anaerobic digester at Harper Adams University, in Edgmond, near Newport.

There are fears that some of the waste might have entered the water supply.

The main road past the college was closed last night until this morning as officials worked to stem the pollution.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it was believed a significant amount of waste had gone into the local watercourse which feeds into the River Strine.

“We are currently oxygenating the water at the confluence of the Rivers Strine and Tern, as ammonia levels are high in a nearby tributary.

“As at 11am this morning we had not received any reports of environmental impacts, but we will continue to monitor the situation.”

“Our priority is to minimise the impact to the environment so we currently have a number of staff assisting Harper Adams, Severn Trent Water and Telford & Wrekin Council on site.”

Dr David Llewellyn, vice-chancellor at Harper Adams, said: “We regret to report that we suffered a leak of digestate from a storage tank on our AD system yesterday afternoon and evening.

“No one was hurt as a consequence of this incident. Staff from the university worked extremely hard during the night to ensure the incident was managed in co-operation with the local authorities.”

The university said it could not say how much waste had leaked out of the tank. The £3m anaerobic digestion plant was built in 2011.

It takes food and farm waste and creates power to be used on campus.

The facility was developed through a partnership between Harper Adams, Biogen Greenfinch and E.ON.

A police spokesman said officers had cordoned off the road as a precaution.