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Environment Agency and Anglian Water investigate pollution incident in River Lark

The Environment Agency and Anglian Water are investigating a pollution incident in the River Lark in Bury St Edmunds and nearby villages.

The incident was reported this morning (January 15) and is believed to have been caused by oil dumped into a manhole.

Ian Hawkins, East Anglia hub co-ordinator for the Anglers' Riverfly Monitoring Initiative, spotted a 'severe quantity' of oil or fuel in the river near Tesco as well as at Eastgate Street, Fornham All Saints and Hengrave.

Pollution slick in the River Lark at Fornham All Saints. Picture: Ian Hawkins
Pollution slick in the River Lark at Fornham All Saints. Picture: Ian Hawkins

Mr Hawkins said it was reported to the Environment Agency at about 8.30am today.

He said: "It's obviously a severe pollution that has been ongoing because it has covered such a long length of the river for such a long period of time.

"We don't know how far down it has gone but hopefully the Environment Agency will be able to trace it back and look at the source of the pollution.

"It's very disappointing this has happened. At Hengrave there has been a severe reduction in the quantity of riverfly invertebrates where the river has been under severe ecological pressure and this will add to the problems at that location."

He added there are only about 285 chalk streams in the world and the River Lark is one of these 'very rare habitats'.

The Riverfly Initiative monitors the health and quality of rivers.

Kerry Jordan, a member of Bury Trout Club, went to investigate the source of the pollution after he was contacted by Mr Hawkins.

He was told by an Anglian Water representative that hydraulic oil was believed to have been dumped into a manhole in River Lane, Bury St Edmunds.

Mr Jordan, of Great Barton, was told that the oil may have been dumped because it is expensive to dispose of.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “We are working in partnership with Anglian Water to investigate an unknown substance in the River Lark.

"An absorbent boom has been put in place to stop the pollution from spreading and we working together to remove the source of the pollutant.

“We are not aware of any fish or wildlife in distress.

“Environment Agency officers will be carrying out an investigation into the cause.”

Suspected oil next to the manhole in River Lane. Picture: Kerry Jordan
Suspected oil next to the manhole in River Lane. Picture: Kerry Jordan

An Anglian Water spokeswoman added: “We are currently assisting the Environment Agency with the investigation of a pollution in the River Lark in Bury St Edmunds.

"The incident is not linked to any Anglian Water assets and is believed to be due to oil being dumped into a used surface water manhole.

"Anglian Water are helping the Environment Agency to clean up the pollution but are not involved in the cause of this incident."

Anyone who sees wildlife in distress, should call the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

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