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Pollution of Scotch Rivers - Basin of the Forth

 

The Rivers Pollution Commissioners have just issued the second volume of their evidence, which included that taken in the basin of the Forth.  The following extracts will be perused with interest by our readers:-

Linlithgow
Burgh area within the municipal boundary, 155 imperial acres.  Population at the last census 3689.  Inhabited houses at last census, 307.  Rateable value of the burgh, £8157.  The burgh was incorporated in 1142 by Royal Charter from King David I.  The General Police Improvement (Scotland) Act, 1862, 25th and 26th Vic.,eap. 21, was adopted on the 13th of February, 1856. Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1867, 30th and 31st of Vict., cap. 101, was adopted by the Parochial Board on the 6th of January, 1868.  The governing body has not executed any public works, such as water, gas, or sewerage works.  The River Avon flows about a mile to the west of the town, but outside the burgh boundary; it is in a very impure condition.  The Union Canal flows through the town, and is also very much polluted by own sewage and shale from oil works.  We are not aware that the bed of the river has silted up, or that the property situated on its banks is affected by floods.  The River Avon is polluted by chemical, paper, and other works, but not to our knowledge by scoria, slag, or cinders.  We are not aware that encroachments on the river are prevented.  The loch situated on the north side of the town is a source of ill health; it is polluted by town sewage.  There are 20 inhabited cellar dwellings in the town.  The rate of mortality is as follows:-

Year

Total deaths

Rate per 1000 per annum

Year

Total deaths

Rate per 1000 per annum

1861

92

23.9

1867

89

23.8

1862

103

26.9

1868

73

19.5

1863

82

21.5

1869

77

27.5

1864

70

18.5

1870

100

29.7

1865

89

23.6

1871

122

32.9

1866

95

25.3

 

 

 

 

The northern districts of the burgh is unhealthy.  This is mainly owing to old and badly constructed drains, and to the polluted state of the loch as before stated.  There are no districts liable to be flooded.  We suggest, as the best means of avoiding pollution in future, that the old public drains, which are open and badly constructed, and often choked, their contents permeating the subsoil and polluting the air, should be abolished, and properly constructed drains substituted in their place, with proper arrangements for flushing them; and that a conduit should be formed for intercepting the sewage from the loch to be used for irrigation.  We have no special suggestions to offer as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of James Ross, Paraffin Oil Manufacturer, Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
My works are situated on a small stream, a tributary of the River Carron, an affluent of the Forth.  Employ 90 hands.  Rateable value of works, £162 8s.  The bed of the stream is not silted up.  My works are not affected by floods.  The condition of the stream has not changed during the last 30 years within my knowledge.  I am not aware that it is polluted by works above, but it is to a certain extent by mines.  Obtain supply of water jointly from the stream and from the Forth and Clyde Canal, and consume 10,000,000 gallons yearly.  I use yearly the following materials:- Bituminous shale 6708 tons; sulphuric or other acid, 430 tons; caustic soda or other alkali, 80 tons.  Produce yearly, naphtha, 120,000 gallons; crude paraffin, 450,000 gallons; lubricating oil, 58,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 180,000 gallons; coal tar pitch, 1700 tons; sulphate of ammonia, 230 tons; scale paraffin, 100 tons; creosote oil, 170,000 gallons; gas tar and ammoniacal liquor, 1,380,000 gallons.  Produce yearly liquid refuse from the following processes: - Condensed water separated from tar after removal of naphtha, 550,000 gallons; spent sulphuric acid after first purifying process, 150,000 gallons; spent caustic soda and tarry matter after second purifying process, 60,000 gallons.  The condensed water is run direct into the stream; the acid and alkali with the waste products are utilised.  We produce yearly 5000 tons of spent shale, which is stored in heaps to be made into bricks as soon as practicable.  Use steam, 54 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 5500 tons of coal, and make about 550 tons of ashes, part of which are ground and mixed with lime for building purposes.  The excrements of my workpeople are removed from dry earth closets, and are used for manure.  We have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, but should not object to rivers and streams being placed under Government inspection, by practical men, but are decidedly averse to unnecessary restrictions on manufactures, considering that there is far too much of such already.

Evidence of the Uphall Mineral Oil Company (Limited) Paraffin Oil Manufacturers, Crofthead, Whitburn, Linlithgowshire.
Our works are situated near the Breich Water.  Employ 20 hands.  Our works are not affected by floods.  The Breich Water is very much polluted by works above and by mines.  Obtain water from reservoir supplied from pits and drains, and consume 50,000,000 gallons yearly.  Use yearly, sulphuric acid or other acid, 100 tons; caustic soda or other alkali, 40 tons.  Produce yearly, crude paraffin, 45 tons; lubricating oil, 5000 gallons; illuminating oil, 45,000 gallons.  Produce yearly 12,000 gallons of spent sulphuric acid after first purifying process and 3000 gallons of spent caustic soda and tarry matter after second purifying process.  Part of this refuse is burnt, and the remainder turned into the stream.  The other waste liquid refuse produced flows into the stream.  Use stream, 18 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 700 tons of coal, and make about 75 tons of ashes, which are used for repairing roads.  The excrements of our workpeople are used for manure.   Have no suggestions to offer.

Evidence of the Uphall Mineral Oil Company
Paraffin Oil Manufacturers, Uphall, near Edinburgh

Our works are situated on the Breich Water.  Employ 269 hands.  Rateable value of works, £500.  The bed of the stream is not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  It is polluted by works above, not to our knowledge by mines.  Obtain supply of water jointly from reservoir and from bore holes, and consume 16,000,000 yearly.  Use yearly 38,500 tons of bituminous shale, 500 tons of sulphuric acid, and 125 tons of caustic soda or other alkali.  Produce yearly, naphtha, 40,00 gallons; crude paraffin, 500 tons; lubricating oil, 120,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 1,000,000 gallons; sulphate of ammonia, 250 tons; and ammonia water, 500,000 gallons.  The spent sulphuric acid after the first purifying process, and the spent caustic soda and the tarry matter after the second purifying process, are all recovered and used again as far as possible.  The other liquid refuse flows into the stream.  Produce yearly 32,000 tons of spent shale, which is deposited in heaps on our premises.  Use steam, 110 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 24,000 tons of coal, and make about 4000 tons of ashes, which are used chiefly for making and repairing roads.  The excrements of our workpeople are used for manure.  Have no suggestions to offer as to the best case of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of the Uphall Mineral Oil Company
Paraffin Oil Manufacturers, Boghall Works, Linlitgowshire

Our works are situated on a small burn, a tributary of the Almond.  Employ 220 hands.  Rateable value of the works, £277.  The bed of the stream has not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  The condition of the stream has not changed within out knowledge.  It is not polluted by works above or by mines.  Obtain supply of water from our own pits, and consume about 4,000,000 gallons yearly.  Use yearly 27,500 tons of bituminous shale, 120 tons of sulphuric acid, and produce 960,000 gallons of crude paraffin, and 150 tons of sulphate of ammonia.  Do not produce any liquid refuse.  Consume yearly about 27,000 tons of solid refuse which is stored in heaps our premises.  Use steam, 120 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 13,000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are used to repair roads.  The excrements of our workpeople are used for manure.  We have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of John Watson & Sons
Paraffin Oil manufacturers, Bathville, near Bathgate

Our works are situated on a small stream, a tributary of the Almond.  Employ 50 hands.  Rateable value of works, £681.  The bed of the stream has not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  The condition of the stream has not changed within our knowledge.  It is not polluted by works above, nor by mines.  Obtain supply of water from our pits; consume yearly 1,410,000 gallons.  Use yearly, cannel coal 3400 tons; sulphuric and other acid, 300 tons; caustic soda or other alkali, 80 tons.  Produce naphtha, 200 gallons; crude paraffin, 20,000 gallons; lubricating oil, 150,000 gallons; and illuminating oil, 50,000 gallons.  Also use 1,680,000 lbs. of resin, from which about 96,000 gallons of lubricating oil are made.  Produce yearly 50,000 gallons of spent sulphuric acid after the first purifying process, and 20,000 gallons of spent caustic soda and tarry matter after the second purifying process.   We burn the acid tar to consume it thoroughly, and recover the caustic soda from the soda tar.  Use steam, 40 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 5500 tons of coal, the ashes from which are put into a rubbish heap.  The excrements of our workpeople are sold to farmers for manure.  We have no special suggestions to offer but if the streams can be kept pure by a reasonable amount of care and expense on the part of the manufacturers, this should be done; but if manufacturers are hindered for the sake of the streams, it is a mistaken policy.

Evidence of Robert Bell
Paraffin Oil Manufacturer, Broxburn, Linlithgowshire

My works are situated on an affluent of the Almond.  Employ 340 hands.  Rateable value of works £510; and of minerals, £1644 13s 11d.  The bed of the stream is not silted up.  My works are not affected by floods.  Obtain supply of water jointly from mines and canal, but am not able to state the annual consumption at my works.  Use yearly, bituminous shale, 70,000 tons; sulphuric acid, 260 tons; caustic soda or other alkali, 20 tons. Produce crude paraffin, 460,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 250,000 gallons; sulphate of ammonia, 60 tons; paraffin scale, 80 tons; blue oil, 130 tons.  I am not able to give the volume of the condensed water separated from tar after removal of naphtha, or spent sulphuric acid after first purifying process, or spent caustic soda and tarry matter after second purifying process.  These waste liquids are put on to a burning spent shale heap and consumed there.  The whole of the premises use steam, 117 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 10,000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are used to repair roads, and the remainder put on to the spent shale heap.  The excrements of my workpeople are used as manure on our farm.  Have no suggestions to offer.

Evidence of George Gray
Paraffin Oil Manufacturer, Leavenseat, by Greenburn, Edinburghshire

My works are situated on the Briech, a tributary of the Almond. Employ 8 hands.  Rateable value of works, £265 15s.  The bed of the stream is not silted up.  My works are affected by floods.  The stream is of a yellow dirty colour, and quite unfit for use.  It is polluted seriously by works above and by mines.  Obtain supply of water from limestone mines, but am not able to state the annual consumption at my works.  Use yearly, bituminous shale, 7000 tons; sulphuric acid, 200 tons; and caustic soda or other alkali, 30 tons.  Produce crude paraffin oil, 240,000 gallons; lubricating oil, 30,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 180,000 gallons; and solid paraffin, 50 tons.  I am not able to state the volume of condensed water separated from tar after removal of naphtha.  Produce 18,000 gallons of spend sulphuric acid after first purifying process, and 18,000 gallons of spent caustic soda and tarry matter after second purifying process.  We recover the sulphuric acid and caustic soda and re-use them.  Produce yearly 4000 tons of spent shale, which is deposited in a heap on our premises.  Use steam, 30 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 6000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are used for ballast on railways.  The excrements of my workpeople are carried to the spent shale heap.  Have no suggestions to offer.

Evidence of the Oakbank Oil Company (Limited)
Paraffin Oil Manufacturers, Oakbank, near Mid Calder, Edinburghshire

Our works are situated on the Linnhouse Burn.  Employ 350 hands.  Rateable value of works, £895.  The bed of the stream is not silted up to any appreciable extent.  Our works are not affected by floods.  There has been no alteration in the condition of the river within our knowledge since the present company took possession of the works in 1869.  The stream is not polluted by works above nor by mines.  Obtain supply of water solely from the stream.  Consume from 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 gallon yearly.  Use yearly, bituminous shale, 45,000 tons; sulphuric and other acids, 800 tons; caustic soda or other alkali, 65 tons; carbonate of soda, 20 tons.  Produce yearly, illuminating oil naphtha, 635,000 gallons; crude paraffin, 102,800 gallons; lubricating oil, 305,000 gallons; and sulphate of ammonia, 350 tons.  Produce 2,000,000 gallons of condensed water separated from tar after removal of naphtha, 187,000 gallons spent sulphuric acid after first purifying process, and 37,000 gallons of spent caustic soda and tarry matter after second purifying process.  Sulphate of ammonia is extracted from condensed water from crude oil.  After the ammonia is taken out we burn all the sulphuric acid tar under our stills, and use the acid for making sulphate of ammonia.  We recover our caustic soda from the tarry matter, and use the residue as fuel.  Produce 38,000 tons of spent shale which is carried to the waste heap.  Use steam, 400 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 30,000 tons of coal, and make from 300 to 400 tons of ashes, which are carried to the spent shale heap.  The excrements of our workpeople are removed by farmers and used for manure.

Evidence of the Glasgow Oil Company (Limited)
Broxburn

Our works are situated on a tributary of the Broxburn.  Employ 110 hands.  Rateable value of works, £628.  The bed of the stream has not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  Obtain supply of water partly from springs and from surface drainage, but do not know the annual consumption at our works.  Use yearly 42,000 tons of bituminous shale, and 150 tons of sulphuric acid.  Produce 1,050,000 gallons of crude shale oil, and 200 tons of sulphate of ammonia.  Have no liquid refuse except water from which the ammonia has been extracted, and which is used for raising steam.  The whole of the solid refuse produced is conveyed to a rubbish heap.  Use steam as power.  Consume yearly 13,000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are removed to a rubbish heap.  The excrements of our workpeople are removed by farmers and used for manure.  Have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company (Limited)
Bathgate, County Linlithgow

Our works are situated on the Bogend Burn.  Employ 500 hands.  The bed of the stream has not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  The stream is not polluted by works above, but it is by mines.  Obtain supply of water from our pits, and consume yearly about 300,000,000 gallons.  Use yearly bituminous shale, 236,379 tons; sulphuric acid, 4790 tons; and caustic soda, 766 tons.  Produce sulphuric acid, 2000 tons; caustic soda, 150 tons; naphtha, 150,000 gallons; crude paraffin, 1000 tons; lubricating oil, 250,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 1,500,000 gallons; and sulphate of ammonia, 130 tons.  The whole of the waste liquid produced at our works is burned in our furnaces.  Produce yearly 40,000 tons of shale refuse, which are deposited on our premises.  Use steam, 120 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 40,000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are put on to a waste heap or used for repairing roads.  The excrements of our workpeople are carted away by farmers and used as manure.  Have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company (Limited)
Addiewell, near West Calder, Edinburghshire

Our works are situated on the Breich River.  Employ 700 hands.  The bed of the river has not silted up.  Our works are not affected by floods.  The stream is very seriously polluted by mines above, and rendered quite useless.  Obtain supply of water by pumping from pits of our own; consume yearly 526,000,000 gallons.  Use yearly, bituminous shale, 134,000 tons; sulphuric acid, 2940 tons, and caustic soda, 628 tons.  Produce naphtha, 120,000 gallons; crude paraffin, 1300 tons; lubricating oil, 172,000 gallons; illuminating oil, 2,285,400 gallons; and sulphate of ammonia, 585 tons.  The whole of the waste liquid produced at our work is burned under our furnaces.  Produce 11,000 tons of shale refuse, which are deposited in heaps on our premises.  Use steam, 280 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 73,210 tons of coal, the ashes from which are used to repair roads.  The excrements of our workpeople are used on our own farm.  Have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

Evidence of John Nimmo
Paraffin Oil Manufacturer
Limerigg Coal and Oil Works, Slamanan

My works are situated on a stream, a tributary of the Avon.  Employ 70 hands.  Rateable value of works, £800.  The bed of the stream has not silted up.  My works are not affected by floods.  The stream is no polluted by works above, nor by mines.  Obtain supply of water from gathering ground, but cannot give the annual consumption at my works.  Use yearly, bituminous shale, 2000 tons; sulphuric acid, 80 tons; and caustic soda, 10 tons.  Produce yearly, crude paraffin, 65,000 gallons; lubricating oil, 10,000; illuminating oil, 30,000 gallons; and sal-ammoniac, 3 tons.  We do not purify the liquid refuse produced at our works, but we burn it under the furnaces.  Use steam, 10 nominal horse-power.  Consume yearly 1000 tons of coal, the ashes from which are used to fill up hollow places and repair walks.  The excrements of my workpeople are used for manure.  Have no suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as to the conservancy of rivers and streams.

 

Falkirk Herald, 28th August 1873

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