Foul-smelling ‘slurry’ closes Fife road and sparks hazmat probe

A large pool of slurry forced the closure of a Fife road on Saturday afternoon after it sparked an environmental health investigation.

Officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are currently looking into the incident at Goathill Quarry near Cowdenbeath after motorists who drove their vehicles through it reported a foul stench coming from their cars.

Police Scotland said it too received a number of complaints about the mystery substance at the road junction at the A909 and B925, not far from Mossmorran, and the road eventually had to be blocked off in both directions to allow emergency services access.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said the discovery of the liquid, which covered a sizeable area of the road, sparked a full hazmat response, with appliances from Burntisland and Kirkcaldy called to the scene to assist.

Firefighters were involved in the clean-up operation and washed down the road before handing the scene over to a representative from Collier Haulage, which has a recycling centre at the quarry site.

The spokesperson suggested the material appears to have been what was described as “low hazard vegetable distillery waste”, and posed no danger to the public.

In a statement on Saturday evening, SEPA said it was fully investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“Officers joined colleagues from Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Fife Council following reports of a thick black substance affecting the road junction at the A909 and B925, near the Mossmorran facility,” the statement read.

“Investigations are ongoing into the nature of the material emanating from the Collier Haulage site, Cowdenbeath.”

While that probe continues though, literally hundreds of drivers have been left with an unpleasant aroma – and have taken to social media to air their concerns.

“Drove through it, also got car washed at car wash place, and it still stinks,” one unlucky driver said.

While another driver said: “This has happened here before – took me over a week to get rid of the smell the last time, the council / SEPA needs to get on top of this and fine the source.”

On Sunday afternoon, SEPA released a further update to try and reassure motorists affected.

“The organic material, thought to be a by-product of whisky production, should be straightforward to remove from vehicles by washing in the normal way,” it added.

“Any odour, as with agricultural by-products, is likely to be short-term.”

Fife Council is also involved in the ongoing investigation.


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Resident-led action group seeking redress from the long-term social, health and environmental impacts from the Mossmorran facilities in Central Fife operated by ExxonMobil (Fife Ethylene Plant) and Shell (Fife NGL).


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