Pol­luters or­dered to re­pair fish­ing mecca

River cul­prits named Re­gion’s worst pol­lu­tion Re­stock­ing bid

Anglers Mail - - Front Page -

THE En­vi­ron­ment Agency has named and shamed the com­pany that caused a crip­pling pol­lu­tion of a for­mer match and plea­sure fish­ing mecca last March, killing 100,000 fish.

Omex Agri­cul­ture Ltd al­lowed a sig­nif­i­cant quan­tity of am­mo­nia to leak into the River Witham, and has now been served with a rarely used no­tice of li­a­bil­ity, in­sist­ing it sub­mits pro­pos­als for re­pair­ing the river.

Un­less Omex ap­peals, it has un­til the mid­dle of this month to sub­mit a plan that the EA has to agree with, and that meets the needs of the en­vi­ron­ment.

But the com­pany could still face pros­e­cu­tion for the in­ci­dent, and po­ten­tially a large fine, depend­ing on the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is still on­go­ing.

In what was Lin­colnshire’s worst-ever pol­lu­tion, am­mo­nia af­fected the river from Bard­ney right down to the Wash, hav­ing a se­vere im­pact on the river's con­di­tion, and wip­ing out fish and in­ver­te­brates.

Man­fai Tang, en­vi­ron­ment man­ager at the EA, said: “We know the pol­lu­tion had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on del­i­cate river ecosys­tems, and is­su­ing this no­tice means the process of help­ing the river re­cover to its nat­u­ral, healthy state can start sooner.

“It’s one way we’re work­ing to pro­tect and im­prove our en­vi­ron­ment for lo­cal peo­ple and wildlife. We look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing pro­pos­als from Omex, and then work­ing with them to re­store the Witham.

“Af­ter the in­ci­dent, EA ex­perts and bi­ol­o­gists worked tire­lessly with other or­gan­i­sa­tions to help clean up the pol­lu­tion and mit­i­gate the dam­age,” he added.

Omex Agri­cul­ture Ltd is a pri­vately owned com­pany based in Tupholme, just east of Lin­coln, that de­vel­ops and mar­kets prod­ucts and ser­vices for agri­cul­ture and in­dus­try.

As re­ported in An­gler’s Mail, fish­eries teams have since re-stocked the river with more than 1.5 mil­lion fish lar­vae, in­clud­ing bream, roach and tench, and have re-in­tro­duced 40,000 roach and bream of around 3-4 cm long. The snowy scene of death on the River Witham last March.

Jake Ben­nett, of Short Ferry An­gling, in Fisker­ton, said: “Luck­ily, the pol­lu­tion didn’t reach our two-mile drain, but I un­der­stand that the fish­ing for sil­ver fish on the af­fected stretches has been ter­ri­ble.

“Many pike seem to have sur­vived, and plenty are be­ing caught, pos­si­bly be­cause there aren’t that many bait fish to feed on.”

EA fish­eries teams have been re­stock­ing the Witham with fish since the pol­lu­tion dis­as­ter.

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