Firefighting foam kills Thames fish

Environmental investigators say it will be some time before the full impact of a spillage of firefighting foam into the River Thames is known.

The spillage first reported in Gloucestershire has killed a large number of fish.

People were warned to stay away from it as it travelled down river as it can irritate eyes, throats and skin.

Emma Bateman, Environment Agency investigating officer, said: “Fisheries officers are also assessing the impact of the foam on local wildlife and we will continue to do so.

“We won’t know exact figures of fish killed until the site has been cleared up properly. However, it will be some time before we know the full environmental impact of the pollution.”

The agency believes it has traced the source of the pollution but would not say what it was. An investigation is underway.

First reported at Dudgrove Brook in Fairford, the spillage killed fish along a 3km stretch of water.

Agency officials were called to the site last Thursday amid concern the foam had entered the surface water system.

They found dead fish in the surface water interceptor and more than 1km downstream where it discharges into the brook.

The interceptor was blocked off to prevent further discharges but the foam had coursed down the River Colne where more dead fish were found.

That evening Peter Payne, Environment Agency lock keeper, reported up to six feet of foam as it went through Lechlade weir with more foaming at Buscot, Radcot and Rushey locks.

The main effect of the foam is on the amount of oxygen in the water but this was not expected to have a significant impact on the Thames as it would dilute and disperse over time.

But the agency remained cautious as the foam passed through Oxford at the weekend.

To report pollution incidents call the Environment Agency emergency hotline on 0800 807060.

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