EU angry with UK as sewage overflows into North Sea, English Channel

British sewage spills into North Sea, British Channel

British sewage spills into North Sea, British Channel

EU lawmakers are annoyed with the UK as British sewage overflows seeping into the English Channel and the North Sea.

Heavy rainfall after weeks of dry weather overwhelmed parts of Britain’s sewage system last week, causing untreated wastewater to be discharged into rivers and seas.

The problem is a long-running issue in Britain, where regulators are investigating possible permit violations by six major water companies and environmental groups allege the firms have failed to make needed repairs.

This is mainly a problem for the U.K., where people were warned to stay away from dozens of beaches last week, raising concerns about public health and the damage to wildlife.

The activist group Surfers Against Sewage reported 654 alerts of sewer overflows spilling sewage into bathing waters this summer from 171 locations in England and Wales.

But three French members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the European Commission on Wednesday warning that the sewage could also threaten bathing waters, fishing grounds and biodiversity in the European Union.

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“The English Channel and the North Sea are not dumping grounds,” said Stephanie Yon-Courtin, a member of the European Parliament’s fishing committee and a local lawmaker in Normandy.

“We can’t tolerate that the environment, the economic activity of our fishers and the health of our citizens is put into grave danger by repeated negligence of the United Kingdom in the management of its sewage water,” she said.

The lawmakers asked the Commission “to use all the political and legal means in its possession” to find a solution, accusing the U.K. of violating its post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

They said while the U.K. is no longer held to EU environmental standards, it is still a signatory to the U.N. convention on maritime rights and obligated to protect shared seawater.

The European Commission said it had not contacted London so far about the complaints. “We will take further the matter as appropriate,” Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant said Thursday.

Britain’s Conservative government has rejected the criticism, saying it has strengthened water quality regulations since Brexit.

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