Fears over potential breach of UK AD digestate lagoon

A local councillor has warned over a potential breach at a digestate lagoon in the UK. Heavy rainfall from Storm Dennis has fuelled concerns that the lagoon, filled with digestate resulting from the anaerobic digestion process, could collapse and 'contaminate' the area.

A report by the Chichester Observer said that councillor Gareth Evans warned that Lagoon 3 was at an 'absolute critical level' and that an 'alarming quantity of water accumulated on top' following the recent storms. Lagoon 3 is located on land formerly part of Crouchlands Farm in Plaistow and contains 53,000 cubic metres of digestate.

An Environment Agency (EA) spokesman said the waste was not hazardous, but that there are some hazards that come with the waste. According to the Chichester Observer article, in 2019, the EA expressed concerns about the structural integrity of the lagoon and said there was a risk that it could fail. The local fire service confirmed in November 2019 that a multi-agency plan for the site had been developed to support an emergency response, should it be required.

Evans told the local newspaper: "The only copies of an Emergency Plan that we have seen seem to depend on either a demolished structure or on the permission from people who have never been asked.

"If Lagoon 3 collapsed, the digestate liquid would then travel over the land and down the water courses to the rivers and the sea and would be a serious threat to properties, farmland and families living in the area, as well as to the river and marine biodiversity."

The EA said a notice had been served to the landowner to ensure the waste was removed. An EA spokesman said: "We are aware that following the recent heavy rainfall the lagoon has filled with water and we have made the landowner aware of the situation.

"We are working with our professional partners on the local resilience forum to review the joint incident response plan which we will update accordingly."

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