Probe as fish die in polluted waterway in Wigan

Dead fish were spotted in the water
Dead fish were spotted in the water

Anti-pollution measures are being taken amid fears that fish found dead in a Wigan waterway had been poisoned.

Resident Chris Winstanley was walking along the canal from Top Lock to New Springs road bridge and says he was horrified to see a number of dead roach floating on the surface.

Other news: Family pays tribute to fatal stabbing victim

After the unpleasant discovery was brought to the attention of the Environment Agency (EA) and the Canal and River Trust (CRT), the latter quickly responded by sending a team of experts to the scene.

Oxygen was pumped into the canal as a preventative measure to possible pollution and an investigation into the matter is currently under way to determine what caused it.

Keen photographer Mr Winstanley was able to capture evidence of the problem and also observed that ducks were snacking on the dead fish.

He said: “I had noticed a few the other day when I went for a walk, but put it down to ‘just one of those things’, but after seeing more I thought it might be a little more sinister.

“There was an odd smell coming off the water as well, so it seems something isn’t right.”

A CRT spokesperson said: “The trust was alerted to reports of pollution on the Leeds and Liverpool in Wigan last week. Our team immediately attended site working with the Environment Agency to contain the pollution. Our specialist contractors MEM fisheries installed pumps into the canal to oxygenate the water and we’re on standby to carry out a fish rescue.

“Only a small number of fish, around 10, unfortunately died.

“The Environment Agency are investigating the cause of the incident and pollution has now dispersed.”

An EA spokesperson said: “Following reports on February 16 of fish in distress, EA officers, together with staff from the Canal and River Trust, visited the site, which was on the stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

“Due to a pollutant, fish - primarily roach - appeared to have congregated at the closed lock gate, unable to swim further after possibly managing to stay ahead of the advancing pollutant front.

“Officers worked to deploy aeration equipment at the scene and laboratory investigations are ongoing.

“EA and CRT staff continued to monitor the event over the next few days until oxygen levels sufficiently increased to normal levels.”