THE Environment Agency have estimated that over 100,000 fish have died – including brown trout, dace, perch, pike, roach, tench and eels – following a devastating pollution incident which killed all aquatic life along a 21km stretch of the River Slea in Lincolnshire.
Environment Agency officers, biologists and fishery experts, who have been conducting a full assessment of the environmental impact, found no live fish and a total wipe out of invertebrate life along the affected stretch of river.
Environment Agency investigations indicate that the pollution relates to a release of Cypermethrim – an insecticide acutely toxic to fish and aquatic life – to the surface water drains of an industrial site in Sleaford over the weekend 15/16th February.
The Agency has contained the pollutant and there should be no further release into the drainage system and into the river.
Investigations further downstream have revealed some impact on invertebrates in the River Witham, some 30km downstream of the release.
Marine biologists have carried out an assessment of shellfish in the tidal Witham Haven and tests reveal that they have been unaffected by the incident. There has been no evidence of any impact on the fish population in the River Witham, and the Agency’s advice to Anglers is that this river is safe to fish.
John Giles, Environment Management Team Leader, said: “This is one of the most severe river pollution incidents in
Lincolnshire in living memory. What makes this case particularly sad is that it could have been easily avoided had procedures for the storage and movement of potentially dangerous chemicals been followed properly.
“We will continue to do what we can to bring this stretch of the River Slea back to life, including a programme of survey work which will let us know when invertebrate life has returned sufficiently to sustain fish re-stocking.”
Evidence has been collected pending a decision on legal proceedings against those responsible.