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Cause of River Witham fish deaths revealed

Ammonia was responsible for the death of tens of thousands of fish in the River Witham, investigations have revealed.

The Environment Agency was deployed to the Southrey area following reports of a mass of fish carcasses floating in the water between Bardney Bridge Lock and Anton’s Gowt on Sunday.

A team of environmental experts including fisheries specialists and biologists arrived on the site on Monday, March 5 to evaluate what they believed to be a serious pollution incident.

The Environment Agency has now said tests showed high levels of ammonia in the waterway, which they believe was the cause of the deaths.

The Environment Agency’s survey vessels ‘Humber Guardian’ is off the coast now monitoring for ammonia levels in The Wash.

Investigators are still working to determine the source of the chemical.

Ammonia, a corrosive gas (or ammonium hydroxide when dissolved in water), can be found in many man-made sources like cleaning products, fertilisers and plastics.

Is it extremely toxic to water organisms.

An Environment agency spokesperson said in a statement: “Our investigations have revealed high levels of ammonia in the water course.

“We believe this to be the cause of the fish deaths.

“Our officers are continuing with their efforts to track and stop the pollution, and protect the local environment.

“We have lab scientists working through the night to complete a full analysis of the water.”

Some people raised concerns to the environment agency about the issue:

The Environment Agency said there is nothing to suggest any danger to the public, but as a precaution it advises people to keep pets and livestock out of the water, not to take and use water from the river, and not to eat dead fish.

In a further statement to The Lincolnite on Tuesday afternoon, the Environment Agency added: “We have identified the source and cause of the pollution in the River Witham.

“Due to ongoing investigations and possible enforcement action we’re unable to give further details at this time.  We are continuing our efforts to isolate the pollution, assist in the clean-up, and mitigate the damage to the environment.”