50,000 fish killed by canal pollution

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Around 50,000 fish are now believed to have been killed by a toxic substance that has leaked into Wolverhampton canals, the Express & Star can reveal today.

British Waterways, which maintains the Shropshire Union and Staffordshire and Worcestershire canals, today admitted the pollution has affected far more fish than first thought and say re-stocking may continue until the autumn with anglers fearing it may take 10 years to get the canals back to their former state.

Conservationists are also worried about the impact on birds in the area, such as heron. Annabel Smith, from British Waterways, said: "The overall figure of fish deaths estimated to be in the region of 50,000.

"The Environment Agency is undertaking a full investigation to determine who is responsible and identify the source of the pollution. Once the clean-up operation has been completed, the areas affected will be fully assessed to ensure the appropriate re-stocking is carried out, which we estimate to take place during autumn."

The contamination has been traced to a Severn Trent sewage plant on Barnhurst Lane in Oxley.

The toxic material travelled through the sewage treatment works and upset the biological process used to remove ammonia.

The contamination began on April 18 and since then dead fish such as pike and bream have been spotted floating in the water as far north as Wheaton Aston in South Staffordshire and as far south as Dunstall Park. One of the worst-hit areas is Autherley Junction at Oxley.

British Waterways has been releasing additional water into the canal to dilute the pollutants.

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