February 28th, 2023.

Lewes Green Party release:

High levels of pollutants known as “forever chemicals”, which don’t break down in the environment, build up in the body and may be toxic, have been found in two waterways close to local water treatment works,in Barcombe and Neaves Lane, Ringmer.

The local discoveries were made as part of a major mapping project across the UK and Europe. The mapping has uncovered high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of about 10,000 chemicals valued for their non-stick and detergent properties, which have made their way into water, soils and sediments from a wide range of consumer products, firefighting foams, waste and industrial processes.

Green Party Councillor and Parliamentary Spokesperson Emily O’Brien said “Southern Water’s own figures already show unacceptable levels of untreated wastewater including raw sewage discharging from several local sewage works. This new research shows that there is additional chemical pollution which, quite literally, will remain in our environment for ever. People have had enough. The government has consistently failed to protect water quality. We need to see proper regulation and we need to bring water companies back into public hands”

Green Party Campaigner and water activist Mark Slater said “Whilst levels are not as high as in some hotspots this new data is deeply concerning. These chemicals have been linked with human health problems, such as kidney disease, but also are extremely damaging to nature and wildlife. Rivers directly affected include Glynde Reach and the Ouse, and ultimately, of course, these non-biodegradable chemicals end up in the sea - and in our food chain. ”

The discovery of high local PFAS levels came in the same week that Green Party motion to recognize the ‘Rights of Rivers’ for the first time in England was passed by Lewes District Council. As a result of a previous Green Party council motion in 2022, Southern Water is now asked about the impact of development on waste water treatment works, a step which has since been followed by at least 10 other English councils including Wealden District Council.

Pictured:  Green Party Councillors tell Southern Water to ‘Cut the Crap’ 
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