The Scottish Environment Protection Agency and East Lothian Council are continuing to work together to respond to Friday’s pollution incident in the River Esk at Musselburgh.

On Saturday, SEPA officers identified the location of the pollution discharge and, while the discharge into the river has stopped, there is likely to be some residual material evident in the water. It may take time to dissipate with continued water discolouration and odour, which is expected to decrease in the coming days.

A specialist contractor, brought in to support clean-up work, has put a number of surface and underwater booms in the watercourse to further protect the natural environment which will be refreshed as required. This follows council officers putting in place absorbent pillows at the weekend.

Water samples taken across the incident are being analysed at SEPA laboratories today to help identify the material, impact and potential source.  Specialist regulatory and ecology officers from SEPA are also in attendance assessing impacts.

As a precaution, pending SEPA laboratory sample results, general advice is for people and pets to avoid the immediate water environment at this time. Anglers are also being advised not to fish from the Esk at this time.

Recognising the environmental significance of the Esk and the importance of bird and aquatic life, Scottish SPCA are aware and have been in attendance.  Given the current national risk of avian influenza (bird flu), It is requested that the public do not touch or handle any birds but instead report these to Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.

SEPA supported by the council are continuing to investigate the cause of the pollution, including how the material entered the watercourse. SEPA is unable to comment further at this stage given the matter is a live investigation and due to the potential for enforcement or criminal action.

SEPA has asked for anyone with information to contact its 24 Hour Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 7060, via or to contact CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

This pollution incident has been very concerning for local communities.  We are very grateful to local people for their support and understanding during this incident.

Published: Monday, 17th January 2022