Disaster Averted – Well Done EA and UU

Last Thursday thousands of gallons of fuel were released from a petrol station in Haslingdon into the River Irwell. Thanks to the prompt response of United Utilities and the Environment Agency a potential catastrophe on the Irwell has been averted.

There were fish deaths reported downstream of Haslingdon as far as Radcliffe, but these fish deaths appear to be in isolated pockets and number in the 100’s rather than the 100’000’s which could have been expected if the pollution were allowed to move downstream unchecked.

Irwell Pollution

Its been a nervous time since news of the incident came through. Initial reports of trout up to 5lbs in weigh were very worrying, but members of our club were out in force on the river bank over the weekend monitoring events, and thankfully the worst case scenario that everyone was expecting never came about.

The worst affected areas seem to be above Irwell Vale and the confluence of the Rivers Irwell and the River Ogden, however downstream of this point members have reported seeing shoals of fry, and chub and trout rising to flys.

The fact that fish have died, up to 12 miles downstream of this point makes me ask the question about what makes some fish more susceptible to pollution than others ? It appears as though Irwell fish come from hearty stock – as they have to put up with massive variations in water quality on a regular basis.

It will be very interesting to see peoples kick sample results over the coming months to see how the rivers invertebrate life has been affected. We might think that we’ve got away with it by the skin of our teeth at present – but there might be long term effects of this fuel spill which will cause lasting damage to the river. We will have to wait and see.

In the mean time – our congratualtions go out to the EA and UU for their prompt action, and the efficient manner in which they have prevented this pollution incident from spreading. Thanks!


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