No more immediate danger for fish in Nene after chemical spill

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WATER samples taken from the River Nene in Peterborough have confirmed that the immediate danger to fish in the river from the chemical spill earlier in the week has passed.

The Environment Agency has said lab results show extremely low levels of the chemicals left in the river system and is expecting the river to return to normal over the next few days.

It is still urging people to remain vigilant for fish struggling as there is a low risk of small amounts of chemical being washed through from surface water drains with rain today and predicted for tomorrow.

“There may still be small pockets of the chemical that have remained undetected but we would expect the rain to dilute any to such a level that it shouldn’t present a problem,” said Norman Robinson from the Agency.

Any further reports of fish struggling should be made to the Environment Agency emergency hotline on 0800-807060.

The Environment Agency will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days before the complete all clear can be given to water users in the River Nene between Orton Mere and Wisbech.

The Food Standards Agency is continuing to work with all partners on the Wash regarding the current closure notices on the shellfisheries.

“We are grateful for the support of anglers by not fishing along the affected stretch of the Nene to give remaining fish a chance to recover from the stress of the pollution and would appreciate their continued support for the next couple of days,” said Mr Robinson.

At least 4,000 fish are known to have died in the pollution but the Agency is now working out the final toll of the impact of the pollution and how it can help the river to recover.

“We have been unable to save some fish and our biological surveys have shown there is likely to be a long-term impact on the flora and fauna of the river. The exact effect is not yet known,” said Mr Robinson.

Tens of thousands of fish were seen in distress along the length of affected river after the 5,000 litre chemical spill at the weekend from Orton Southgate industrial estate.

Throughout the week the Agency has been managing water flows between Orton Mere and the Dog in a Doublet Sluice to help dilute the chemical pollution which lowered the risk to wildlife.

Although the levels of chemical detected in the water are no risk to human health, people are still advised to take precautions and to follow NHS advice if they find contact with the water causes irritation.

Anyone concerned about being in contact with the water and who has skin irritation should wash skin and hair with soap and water in the first instance. If irritation persists they are advised to seek medical advice.

If anyone has irritation in their eyes after being in contact with the water they should flush immediately with plenty of drinking water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention if irritation persists.

The chemical spill is being investigated by police and the Environment Agency.

Businesses and farmers can take simple steps to prevent pollution including storing oils and chemicals safely and securely. For more tips see our ‘basic steps’ guide to preventing pollution at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/pollution/39083.aspx

If you see pollution, or want an update on an incident, call the Environment Agency’s Helpline on 0800-807060.