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In July, 1872, Thomas Alexander Hay, Newliston, raised an action against the Uphall Mineral Oil Company (Limited) for the purpose of having it found that he had a good and undoubted right to have the water of Beughburn and Broxburn, till its junction with the Beughburn, so far as the streams flowed through or past his lands lying in the parishes of Uphall and Kirkliston, transmitted through or past his property in a pure state, fit for domestic purposes and fit for the enjoyment and use of man and beast; and that the defenders had no right to pollute or adulterate the waters of the streams, or to discharge into it, or either of them, any noxious or impure matter from or near or connected with their works on the lands of Stankards, in the parish of Uphall. Defences were lodged to the action, in which defenders denied that they polluted the water of the streams. After the record had been closed, the defenders lodged a minute admitting that they had caused impurities to be discharged from their works into the Beughburn, and from thence into the Broxburn, to such an extent as to pollute the waters of the stream. The Lord Ordinary on 18th January remitted to Mr Pattinson, engineer and consulting chemist in Newcastle, to inspect and examine the defenders works, and to report whether they could be so arranged and conducted in future as to prevent the pollution of the water in the Beughburn, and, if so, in what manner. Mr Pattinson made three reports giving his views on the subject, and thereafter the Lord Ordinary pronounced the following interlocutor :— “The Lord Ordinary, having considered the cause, with Mr Pattinson's third report, ordains the defenders to execute such works of a permanent character by strengthening of the existing drains and the formation of additional drains, as might be necessary, to prevent the pollution of the Beughburn in times of floods and rainy weather ; and remits back to Mr Pattinson to see such works as he may deem necessary for these purposed executed and repaired.”


With the view of stopping the pollution of the Almond, similar actions were lately raised against the West Calder Oil Company and Young's Paraffin Light Mineral Oil Company by Sir Alex. Gibson Maitland and another, and against the Oakbank Oil Company at the instance of Mr Wilson, Alderston, and others. For the West Calder Company defences were lodged, in which the defenders pleaded, inter alia, that the pursuers' averments were irrelevant; that all parties interested were not called; that the pursuers were barred from complaining of the alleged pollution. The Lord Ordinary, however, issued an interlocutor repelling the first, second, third, and fifth pleas in law stated for the defenders, and allowed the pursuers a proof of their averments on record, and to the defenders a conjunct probation.

In the case against Young's Paraffin Light and the Oakbank Oil Companies, a minute was lodged admitting that at and prior to the date of the actions they wrongfully, and to the injury of the pursuers, permitted impurities to be discharged from their works into the waters complained of ex adverso of the pursuers' properties, and undertook to take all practical means to put a stop to the pollution complained of, so far as occasioned by them, in all time coming.


Glasgow Herald, 21st March 1874

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