Chemical spill linked to Nene fish deaths

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THE Environment Agency has linked a chemical spill of pesticides at Orton Southgate with the death of an estimated 4,000 fish in the River Nene at Peterborough.

Tens of thousands of fish have also been struggling along the length of river from Orton Mere to Wisbech, some of which will probably die and some of which are expected to recover, says the Agency.

The 5,000 litre chemical spill at the weekend has worked its way along the River Nene. Full results of water samples are expected late tomorrow (Wed).

Although the pollution is very toxic to the environment, the Agency has been managing water flows between Orton Mere and the Dog in a Doublet Sluice to help dilute it. This has lowered the risk to people in contact with the water although they are still advised to from stay away from it as a precaution.

Anglers are being advised to stop fishing the stretch for a few days to give remaining fish a chance to recover.

Anglian Water, local downstream abstractors, the RSPB, Nene Parks Trust, river users, the local authority, internal drainage boards and the Health Protection Agency were alerted by the Agency, which has also been in talks with organisations around the Wash to ensure the very small risk to waters beyond Wisbech is understood and managed.

A penstock close to Orton Southgate has been closed to prevent any further chemicals escaping to the river and the spill is being cleaned up.

“We are urging people to be cautious over the next few days even though the risk is very small. We are doing everything we can to establish the level of pollution in the Nene and to ensure it has as little effect on wildlife and people as possible,” said Norman Robinson, Environment Agency Manager.

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.

Dead fish are mostly roach and those seen struggling include roach, spined loach, eels, perch and tench. No very large fish have so far died in the pollution. Unfortunately the Agency has been unable to move fish as has been done in Essex, due to the nature of the Nene and access to it.

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

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