It's Thursday 28th July and I'm just back from taking a look for myself at the impact of the recent fish kill on our waters following the incident at an AD Plant near Dymock on Friday 22nd. I've recorded a few short videos to give you my first impressions of the impact plus a view on the work being carried out by the EA which is significant. Their Conservation rep Chris Bainger has been keeping me up to speed with developments which makes a change from their sporadic communication following incidents in 15, 13 and 07. He's probably been telling me as much as he can, bearing in mind there will hopefully be a prosecution that he doesn't want to compromise. The damage appears to have been done by what they call an agricultural digestate which is a by product of an anaerobic digester at a recycling plant near Dymock. Ironically the website of the likely offender boasts its green credentials and uses the word organic a lot. I have no doubt also that it is Government subsidised to produce "green energy".
There was little the EA could do, even though they took a call from a Dymock stream-side resident within an hour of the spillage, probably caused by a catastrophic failure of the unit to which these things are remarkably prone. This external EA publication lists containment failures between 2010-2013 and raises their concerns about risks to the environment. The killer content of this type of effluent is undissolved ammonia with readings of 0.25 causing distress to fish and invertebrates. Our little river of death was carrying readings of 5.2. The plug of pollution worked its way painfully down the water course via the Preston Brook and into the Leadon taking 24 hours to arrive at Ketford just upstream of our Cutt Mill section. The EA were surprised at how long it took to work downstream but their normal remedy for this type of pollution; to pump in freshwater, was not readily available nor in practise particularly effective against ammonia.
Yesterday Chris confirmed that a 15k section of the Leadon was now impacted between Dymock and Weddeburn Bridge, Highleadon and that the incident had been upgraded to "national significance" Hence the army of workers that I bumped into at Upleadon today. Although Chris is confident of a successful prosecution I urged him not to go for a soft settlement and explained that in the past his organisation had appeared pretty toothless in the face of more commercial concerns. We shall have to see what develops but I intend to keep the pressure up.
My lasting memory as I returned from wandering the banks will be of the beautiful chub, dace and trout lifeless amongst the bundles and deflectors of our recent habitat improvement project work. You couldn't make it up!