Canal wiped out by mystery pollution


Scientists are this week trying to discover the cause of a devastating pollution incident which has killed more than 15,000 fish at a popular fishing canal in the North-West.

Hordes of roach, bream, carp, tench, perch and pike have been found dead in the Rochdale Canal between Causeway Bridge at Broadgate and the first locks at Failsworth.

While it is still too early to pinpoint the exact cause of the pollution, which is in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it looks highly likely that a mass chemical spill is responsible.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We are awaiting the results of water samples taken from the canal. Plant life within the affected stretch has been left discoloured, and has a ‘burnt’ appearance. This suggests a chemical substance has been present in the water.”

Local residents who have witnessed the scene believe the problems started over the weekend of July 19.

John Carter, who lives nearby, said: “I took the dog for a walk on Saturday and saw a few dead fish and thought nothing of it, but when I visited again on Sunday there were dead fish everywhere.

“The biggest mortalities were pike ranging from 15lb to 20lb. I called the EA and someone was on the scene within 20 minutes.”

Gerry Lees, proprietor of Gilders Fishing Tackle shop at Failsworth which backs on to the canal, believes the source of the pollution will be found at Broadway Business Park.

“Above the business park, the weed and lilies look healthy and stretch right across the canal, but below it everything has died already. Whatever has gone in, is clearly a pretty volatile substance. There are huge numbers of bream to around 5lb, tench, carp, roach and tench which have all perished,” he said.

Unfortunately, the Rochdale Canal isn’t the only venue to suffer hefty fish deaths recently, with stacks of bream, eels, pike, tench and carp being found belly up in the River Parrett and River Yeo in Somerset.

Heavy rainfall and subsequent hot weather is being blamed for these fatalities.