FORCE trustees and members have been very saddened to see the effects of a major pollution incident in the River Crane over the last few days. This has been caused by raw sewage flowing into the river by the A4 Bath Road between Saturday night and early Monday morning due to a defective valve on the two metre diameter sewer that services the Heathrow area.
On Sunday there was clear evidence of a major fish kill along the 10 kilometres of the lower River Crane, as well as the 5 kilometre linked channel known as the Duke of Northumberland’s River (DNR). The Environment Agency stated at the time that around 3,000 fish were believed dead. By Monday the lower Crane resembled an open sewer, local people were visibly shocked by its appearance and the smell was forcing people to cover their faces with scarves and handkerchiefs.
The Environment Agency (EA) has described this as a “devastating raw sewage spill” which has effectively “wiped out” the aquatic life in the lower 10 kilometres of the River Crane, considering it to be “the most serious incident we have had on a tributary of the River Thames for several years”.
Thames Water and the EA have pledged to do all they can to assess the damage and clean up the river. However this is likely to take a long time, largely governed by the natural recuperation processes of the river system. It could take weeks to flush out the worst of the pollution and several years to return to its previous ecological richness.
This is a particularly difficult blow for the Crane given all the hard work that has been done by FORCE members, Richmond and Hounslow councils, and many other organisations and individuals over the last few years to improve the river environment and its value for local people. FORCE is determined that this current situation will be overcome and the ongoing improvements to the surrounding green spaces will continue.
Rob Gray, Chair of FORCE said;
“The Trustees and members of FORCE are shocked by this horrendous event and have been overwhelmed by calls and e-mails expressing concern about our well loved river. It is however essential to remember that the River Crane is not destroyed for good and it will recover”.
Recovery will not be a quick fix and Thames Water needs to work with local groups and the EA, and to provide whatever is needed, fully funded over the long term to ensure a complete recovery. We are determined to ensure that as far as possible this situation should never occur again and will urge Thames Water to review and revise their systems so that no similar pollution event can happen.”
In the short term it is important for all riverside visitors to keep both themselves and their dogs out of the river until further notice. Despite the warning notices posted in the park by FORCE trustees, there were still dogs bathing in the river this week.
– press release from Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE) - 1 November 2011 - www.force.org.uk
We alerted the NRA on 9th October. We were surprised to see a crab crawling out of the river by Hill View Road. The river stank with sewage & to be fair the NRA phoned next day to get details.Stephen Alexander on 2011-11-04 09:34:35 +0000
Who is responsible for the 'defective valve' and its maintenance? What penalties might apply for their failure to maintain it adequately and with such serious consequences?
It's not clear to me if responsibility lies with Thames Water or another party, such as the British Airports Authority. Whoever it is, the question arises as to whether their maintenance regime was suitable, or if they were scrimping on it.Graham Williams on 2011-11-04 13:18:47 +0000
I hope that there is good evidence of a satisfactory risk assessment that was done in advance to accompany the method statement for this work.
I am surprised at the length of time taken between discovering the fault and rectifying it.
Was it necessary to plan the work for the Saturday ? Is there effective engineering back-up to support the work team on a Saturday afternoon ?
I hope the EA investigation will be rigorous.Tim Henderson on 2011-11-04 13:59:44 +0000
TAC, FORCE and Fish Legal negotiating for a large settlement with Thames Water this morning emarketing.blue-leaf.co.uk/t/ViewEmail/r/252E1E23222C6321/2B9B33D11E20CD75D9767B6002735221Ed on 2011-11-04 14:00:39 +0000
This Guardian article is dynamite: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/03/thames-water-heathrow-river-sewageEd on 2011-11-04 14:06:36 +0000
I went fishing on the Crane last Sunday morning as I have done many times, I did not see the dead fish at first and had done a few casts. When there was no fish movement I throw some bread in still there was no movement. I then looked down along he bank and started to see the reason why, I could not believe what I saw. There were lots of dead small fish as I then walked along the river there were just dead fish everwhere. I have fished this river for years, how could this be allowed to happen. When I got home I rang the environment agency hotline, I gave them the details but they did not state then they know what was going on they said hey would investigate. I ended up with a rash on my hand where my fishing line had gone across my hand. I would like to know who was responsible for this as I have been give a couple of stories.Kevin Smith on 2011-11-04 23:22:17 +0000
@Kevin">@Kevin Smith, please join the Thames Anglers Conservancy www.rivertac.org/ we are a free club. Also lots of information about the Crane incident on our website.Ed on 2011-11-05 00:58:58 +0000
@Kevin">@Kevin Smith, can you tell me as exactly as possible what time on Sunday morning you started fishing, and about how long before you noticed the dead fish? This could be quite important. Thanks, Ed.Ed on 2011-11-05 12:52:14 +0000
The Annual General Meeting of The Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE) will be held at Rivermeads Hall, Staines Road Twickenham on 10th November 2011 at 8pm, homepage.ntlworld.com/borsuk/force/docs/NoticeofMeeting11.pdf - there is an "Any other business" item on the agenda where this may well be discussed.Ed on 2011-11-05 13:04:15 +0000
The interests of those living along the lower reaches of the Crane, from the A316 down to where the river empties into the Thames at the end of Railshead Road are represented by the Tidal Crane Association. This informal grouping organises an annual river cleaning day and promotes eco-management along its stretch of the river. We received no notice of the release of sewage or advice on how we should cope with it. Perhaps the foul smelling brown sludge piling up at the bottom of our gardens should have warned us.Compost King on 2011-11-06 16:16:17 +0000
Hounslow Chronicle: Thames Water to pay up over sewage in River Crane tinyurl.com/d5qg6egEd on 2011-11-10 23:12:49 +0000
FORCE have issued an updated statement on this incident. Main points:
- Lakes at Syon Park affected as well as Northumberland and Crane rivers. - An estimated 10,000 fish are now believed to have been killed - Water quality has benefitted substantially from heavy rain over the weekend but people and pets still advised to stay out of the water - Thames Water have accepted responsibility - Thames Water are likely to be prosecuted More at homepage.ntlworld.com/borsuk/force/news.htmlEd on 2011-11-11 08:15:12 +0000