Press release

Leicestershire pollution incident resolved

Environmental damage to site of special scientific interest and fish stocks on the Grand Union Canal averted

Incident command unit
Environment Agency Incident Command Unit at scene

A serious pollution incident on an 8km stretch of the Grand Union Canal has now been dealt with, the threat to a Site of Special Scientific Interest has been averted, and thousands of fish have been saved.

The Environment Agency, the Canal & River Trust and Natural England worked together successfully to deal with the incident that is thought to have originated from farm slurry entering the canal.

The operation involved efforts to contain the pollution, rescue the fish and then dilute the water to protect the Site of Special Scientific Interest, and save the fish downstream in the unpolluted stretch of the canal.

John Dronfield, incident commander at the Environment Agency said:

The hard work of all the teams involved has led to the best possible outcome that we could have hoped for.

Whilst the incident resulted in thousands of fish deaths, the outcome could have been far worse. I’m pleased to announce that the vast majority of fish were saved and the Site of Special Scientific Interest on the Kilby-Foxton Canal was protected.

Neil Owen, acting waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said:

Working with our specialist contractors, MEM Fisheries, we managed to save over 100,000 fish from this pollution incident. It is going to take time for the fish stocks to recover but hopefully over time the fish relocated further along the canal will make their way back to this stretch of canal.

The canal was closed to boats for 3 weeks and 3 days as the water was aerated to remedy some of the damage caused and thousands of fish were plucked from the polluted stretch and moved to safer areas. Fresh water was then pumped into the affected area from the river Sence and from further upstream in order to dilute the pollution until the water quality was back to normal.

The successful incident response and collaboration of all 3 agencies prevented further damage to the environment or to recreational fishing downstream, and the Environment Agency investigation team is now taking the lead in attempts to identify and take action against any individual or business that contributed to the pollution.

Anyone who sees any impact of the pollution or any dead fish should report the matter to our incident hotline on 0800 807060. Anyone who has any information on the possible source of the pollution is also urged to contact the hotline.

Published 29 January 2015