Environment Agency update on River Frome pollution

Frome Town Council has received an update from the Environment Agency following the reports of dead fish on the River Frome last week (12/05/2016):

‘The Environment Agency was notified of a large fish kill on the River Frome in Frome town centre, Somerset, on Thursday 12 May 2016.

We have received a total of 14 reports from members of public reporting this pollution since early afternoon on Thursday 12 May 2016.

Environment Agency officers attended the River Frome on Thursday evening to investigate this pollution and assess the number of fish deaths. 

Due to the high concentrations of ammonia in the river and low oxygen levels, a large number of fish were in distress or dying. Our Operations Delivery team deployed hydrogen peroxide to the river on Thursday evening to help restore levels of dissolved oxygen.

By morning on Friday 13 May the oxygen levels in the river had increased to 42% and ammonia levels had greatly reduced.  

Further investigation was undertaken on Friday 13 May by Environment Management officers, during which time the source of the pollution was discovered. It appears that slurry had been released from a farm.

During our investigations on Friday 13 May, fisheries officers counted 1,604 dead fish. Species affected included Roach, Trout, Chub, Pike, Dace, Bream, Perch, Bullhead, Gudgeon, Stickleback and Minnow. Many more could have already washed downstream or been eaten by wildlife.

Breakdown of fish casualties:

588 – major (larger) fish species: Roach, Chub, Dace, Trout, Perch, Gudgeon, Bream and Pike

1016 – minor (smaller) species: Bullhead, Minnow, Stoneloach, Sticklebacks

1604 – overall

An invertebrate survey has been undertaken to assess the impact of the pollution on invertebrate life.

The pollution is being treated as a Category 1 incident (the most serious) due to the number of fish killed and impact on the environment. We are currently collating all of the evidence gathered by Environment Agency officers. This will be used to decide our enforcement response.

We are continuing to monitor the water quality of the River Frome. The water quality of the River Frome in Frome town centre is currently good’.

If anyone is concerned about this incident they should in the first instance call the Environment agency on 0370 850 6506. To report any environmental incidents, call their incident line on 0800 80 70 60.