Crypto plant to stay open as supplies get back to normal

United Utilities bosses vow not to close down Franklaw whatever inquiry finds

Monday, 31st August 2015, 7:00 pm
Staying open: Future of Franklaw Treatment Plant is not in doubt says United Utilities

THE water treatment plant at the centre of the cryptosporidium scare in Lancashire will not be shut down, company bosses have vowed.

A criminal investigation is still ongoing at the Franklaw works near Garstang more than three weeks after contamination was found in supplies.

But, despite strong rumours locally about the future of the area’s largest employer, United Utilities chiefs are adamant there are no plans to close the site, whatever the inquiry finds.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I can discount that,” said Gary Dixon, the company’s customer serices director. “Franklaw is a key plant, it is one of our biggest, producing up to 140 million litres a day.

“This plant has operated perfectly well for many years. We have invested heavily to improve it over the past 10 years, particularly the last five.

“It performs extremely well and that performance speaks for itself.

“Something has clearly gone wrong there and a full independent investigation is going on to find out what it was.

“We are not able to comment on the investigation because this is a formal process carried out by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

“They will identify what they believe to be the source of this and whatever consequences they may set from that.”

The DWI has promised to make its full findings public. But the Inspectorate has not put a timescale on when it should be able to reveal details of what caused the contamination and why the bug was allowed to get into drinking water.

More than 300,000 households and businesses were affected when the crypto parasite was identified in samples coming out of the plant at Catterall.

The boil water notice was put in place for Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and the Fylde Coast on August 6 and by August 10 Franklaw was back to producing clear water.

But it took more than two-and-a-half weeks to flush the bug out of parts of the distribution network, enabling United Utilities to lift the notice to around 80,000 homes last Thursday. A further 86,000 homes were given the all clear on Sunday, including parts of South Ribble and Preston, leaving just under half of the affected area still needing to boil drinking water.