Still no source for north-east town’s mysterious smell

Residents in Portlethen have been plagued by the problem for years
Residents in Portlethen have been plagued by the problem for years

The mystery of a foul odour in a north-east town remains unsolved, with organisations continuing to monitor the situation.

Residents in Portlethen have been plagued by the problem for years and more than 50 people turned up to a public meeting in November.

Representatives from McIntosh Donald, Scottish Water, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and Aberdeenshire Council’s environmental health department were all at the meeting at the town’s academy and had vowed to investigate.

In the last six months investigations have taken place from Scottish Water including a CCTV survey of the main sewer that identified some maintenance issues.

A spokesman for Scottish Water said: “Since November’s meeting, we have continued to work with Aberdeenshire Council and Sepa to monitor the level of odour reports in Portlethen and investigate all potential causes that have been identified.

“A follow-up meeting also took place between Scottish Water and representatives of the local community council earlier in the year to update them on progress and answer their questions about the town’s sewer network.

“While a CCTV survey of the main sewer through Muirend Road and Devenick Drive last year did not find any likely causes of the odours reported, it did identify some maintenance issues, including a build-up of deposits from fats and oils in some areas.

“Sewer cleaning was carried out in March this year, followed by a further CCTV survey to confirm that these issues had been resolved successfully.”


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The smell was originally thought to be coming from the McIntosh Donald abattoir on Cookstown Road.

A dedicated number for residents will not be launched, with Sepa saying there had been a reduction in complaints in 2019.

A Sepa spokeswoman said: “Sepa has been notified of one odour complaint in the Portlethen area during 2019, however, we were unable to identify a source on that occasion. We will continue to work with Aberdeenshire Council and Scottish Water to investigate any reports and potential sources.

“There were discussions in 2018 about a single reporting line but the reduction in complaints suggests this is not currently required. If the situation changes we will revisit this.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “We have not received any odour complaints recently but remain in regular contact with Scottish Water and Sepa.”

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