The pesticide spill in Toppesfield Brook is continuing to affect the River Colne downstream from Great Yeldham. At least 10kms of the river has been affected so far.
The pollution is moving relatively slowly down the river and the Environment Agency estimate it will reach Colchester in around two days. However, they hope that there will be no major effects by this point due to the pesticide being further diluted by the widening river.
The Environment Agency has moved around 6000 fish to safety so far. However, they estimate that 4000 larger fish and many thousands of smaller fish, invertebrates and flora have been killed.
Frank Saunders from the Environment Agency said: ‘We are continuing to do all we can to minimise the impact but unfortunately we have seen some devastating effects so far. This is one of the biggest chemical spills into a watercourse in Essex in the last 15 years”
“We ask that if people see fish gasping or dead anywhere along the river, please ring the Environment Agency immediately on 0800 80 70 60.”
The pesticide is now very dilute and does not pose a significant risk to humans, but if anyone has been in contact with the water and is at all concerned, they should contact NHS Direct. Dog owners are being advised to keep their pets out of the water as a precautionary measure.
And this is how it happened, from http://www.farming.co.uk/news/article/6686
Thursday 14 June 2012
After a farm trailer overturned above Toppesfield Brook in Essex yesterday afternoon, spilling around 5,000 litres of pesticide directly into the brook, the Environment Agency has said that swift action on the part of the farmer and EA officials has averted a crisis.
The farmer in question alerted the Environment Agency, which was able to dam the brook and minimise the amount of pesticide travelling further downstream. The pesticide was due to be spread over fields north of Finchingfield, but toppled on a farm bridge over the brook before most of the pesticide had been used.
Pesticide use is subject to tight controls in the UK, as the chemicals’ effects on aquatic life as the results of drift, leaching or accidents such as yesterday’s can have devastating effects on aquatic life. The chemicals can exact behavioural change in fish that reduces populations and kill off zooplankton or insects on which fish feed.
Some pesticides are slow to break down in certain conditions and can result in persistent pollution. It is believed most pesticides are more damaging to aquatic life than herbicides.
Following yesterday’s spillage, a specialist team was called in to dam the brook. The contaminated water was then pumped from the brook to adjacent fields. Working through the night, the Environment Agency built a second dam so a further section of the brook could be cleared in the same way. A spokesperson said a third could be put in place if it is deemed necessary.
Agency spokesperson Jamie Fairfull said, “The fact that we were called in has prevented the damage to the area from being far worse. We will still see some fish deaths and parts of the brook will be damaged, but this could have been far worse.”
He issued the recommendation, “If you are involved with or see anything happen which you think could cause a risk to the environment, please call the Environment Agency immediately. The faster we know about things the faster we can decide what needs to be done.”
Mr Fairfull said the brook and main river system will be continually monitored by the Agency and, should concerns arise, officials will step up measures taken at the site. The public has been advised to keep their dogs on leads in the area and to stop them entering the water.
The Environment Agency can be contacted via its emergency helpline on 0800 80 70 60