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Oswestry River Morda chemical leak: It could take years for wildlife to recover from pollution

Oswestry | News | Published:

It could be years before wildlife on a Oswestry's Morda River recovers after it was polluted by a chemical spill.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust says otters, kingfishers and dragonflies have been hard hit by the toxic leak which killed thousands of fish in the Morda Brook on the edge of the town.

An investigation into the cause of the chemical leak on Thursday night could last months, the Environment Agency has said.

But Shropshire Wildlife Trust said today that the damage to the brook's ecosystem will much longer.

Pete Lambert, the trust's river projects manager, said: "After the devastating pollution incident on the Morda Brook last week its waters are flowing clear again. It could however, be years before the brook's wildlife recovers.

"Otters, kingfishers and dragonflies will have been hard hit. The brook's entire ecosystem may have been destroyed, its aquatic vegetation, insects, fish and crayfish could

have been wiped out in this area.

"Otters, which made a welcome return to the brook following the near-extinction in the UK of this beautiful creature in the 1970s, have had their food supply wiped out."

Mr Lambert said the Morda Brook was a delightful stream.

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"It survives in a relatively natural state with meanders, riffles and bends – unlike many other rivers and watercourses in Shropshire."

He said brown trout were known to spawn in the brook but the fish fry were unlikely to have survived after contact with the toxic chemicals.

Pollution in the River Morda.Giles Cochrane from the pools with milky coloured water

"Dippers, unique among UK birds for their ability to forage along stream beds, walking underwater to catch insect larvae, small fish and shrimps, will no longer be able to

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find food, so these birds, which are known to breed on the brook, will be lost. The larvae of dragonflies, which live in the water for several years before emerging as

adults, will also have succumbed to the acid conditions caused by the spillage."

""This is a particularly serious incident. Our rivers are under constant threat from human-derived pollution, whether from phosphates leaching into the water from agricultural land, domestic sewage flowing directly into watercourses as a result of plumbing misconnections and hydrocarbons from roadwater, where drains empty into natural watercourses."

He urged anyone seeing dead or dying fish or discolouration of water in a river or stream to report it immediately to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

The Environment Agency said their workers were continuing to sample the water in the River Morda . Experts said they were unable to comment on the cause of the pollution, while their investigation remains ongoing.

The river turned milky-white last Thursday, following what is believed to have been a leak from a tanker, and on Friday, United Utilities said it was investigating an issue at its treatment works in Oswestry and was working with the Environment Agency to resolve the situation.

Earlier this week the Environment Agency said the water in the river had been improving, and there was no longer a "significant risk" to the public or animals.

The investigation is expected to last months, as the agency said it will be carrying out further monitoring of the watercourse over the next few months to understand the impact.

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