AN investigation is under way after a tanker full of sewage dumped its load in to a Canvey dyke.

Residents in Village Hall Close, Canvey, were woken up after hearing the tanker manoeuvring in their normally quiet cul-de-sac.

The vehicle dumped liquid waste into the dyke, which is frequently used by children as a play area.

The Environment Agency has promised to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

Fred Sargent, 79, one of the residents woken up by the lorry, said: “The large tanker pulled up and discharged sewage waste straight into the dyke.

“It woke most of the residents up, so everyone knew about it.

“We don’t know who dumped it,- but hopefully CCTV will help identify them.”

The incident took place between 2.30am and 3am on Thursday.

Mr Sargent said: “Unfortunately, we have got a lot of children here who like playing there.

“They have been banned from going over there until it gets cleared up.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before here.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We have been alerted to a tanker of sewage tipped illegally into a channel near a Canvey dyke.

“We are following up on leads to trace the culprit and a tanker will be on the scene shortly to extract the waste.

“The cost of the operation will be charged to the guilty party.”

Under the Environmental Protection Act, it is an offence to dump waste on land without a licence.

On a conviction by magistrates, the maximum punishment for the offence is 12 months in prison or a £50,000 fine.

In the crown court, there is a maximum five-year jail term and offenders can receive an unlimited fine.

Anyone with information about who may have dumped the sewage should call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.