RIVER Irwell pollution has caused an “ecological disaster” after suffering a second incident in just three weeks.

This is according to CEO of the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust Michael Duddy.

The pollution was reported to the Trust on the evening of Saturday April 22 when members of the public saw large patches of white foam along the river in Burrs Park in Bury.

Whilst the actual chemical which has polluted the river is unclear, its effect is clear to see.

Mr Duddy said: “This incident has wiped out everything that the first incident missed. We have an ecological disaster.”

“We have immediate evidence that even as far down as Salford, the environment has been compromised by this pollution. Even bats and birds have been affected.”

River Irwell Pollution
Icebergs of foam at Bury Weir (Courtesy copyright of Michael Duddy)

The first incident was estimated to have eradicated almost 95% of invertebrate life in a 25 mile stretch of river, which is the foundation of the food-chain within these environments.

Mr Duddy said that this incident alone was “absolutely devastating”.

This first River Irwell pollution was reported on April 3, and it is suspected that a pesticide was dumped into the river.

This pesticide would not have been caught by water treatment plants, who treat only biological contamination.

Pollution along the Irwell (Copyright courtesy of Michael Duddy)
Pollution along the Irwell (Copyright courtesy of Michael Duddy)

The Environment Agency is looking into both pollution incidents, but has so far revealed no information about their investigations.

A spokesperson from the agency said: “On Monday April 3 we received two reports of dead crayfish in the River Irwell near Rawtenstall.

“Our Environment Officers collected both water and moss samples to determine the cause and the data from these samples has enabled the team to narrow down the search area for the source of the pollution.


“Last weekend we received reports from the public of foam in the River Irwell at Burrs Country Park . Environment Officers are currently analysing samples to assist our investigations – at this time we have not received any reports of fish mortalities and are treating the two incidents separately.”

Those with any information about this incident are asked to call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

Anyone who would like to volunteer with the Mersey Basin River Trust should contact volunteer@merseybasin.org

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