Devastating river pollution caused by ‘accidental leak’ - Bardney company

Environment Agency fisheries experts restocking the River Witham
Environment Agency fisheries experts restocking the River Witham

An ‘accidental leak of fertiliser’ was responsible for a major pollution incident on the River Witham that killed more than 100,000 fish.

Omex Agriculture Limited - based at Bardney Airfield near Tupholme - says it is already working with the Environment Agency to replace the fish and restore the river’s ecological system.

In a statement, Omex stresses it was the first incident in 42 years at its Bardney site and added steps have already been taken to ensure there is no repeat.

The company said: “As soon as the incident was discovered, the leak was stopped and repaired and OMEX has since been working with the Environment Agency to restore the river and has provided funding for consultant ecologists to manage the re-population of fish as quickly and sustainably as possible.

“OMEX takes safe storage very seriously – this is the first incident of its kind at the Bardney site in the 42 years of operations – and we are committed to the remedial work required and installing new measures to ensure that this incident cannot happen again.”

As reported in the News last week, the Environment Agency (EA) issued Omex with a ‘notice of liability’ under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015.

The notice – only the second the EA has issued since regulations came into place – requires the company to develop plans for repairing the environmental damage caused when ammonia leaked into the river in March.

OMEX has until the middle of this month to submit proposals to satisfy the EA but stresses work is already underway to restore the river’s ecologocial system.

Manfai Tang, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We know the pollution had a devastating effect on delicate river ecosystems and issuing this notice (liability) means the process of helping the river recover to its natural, healthy state can start sooner.”

• Ammonia severely affected the river ecosystem from Bardney to the Wash and is thought to be the worst river pollution incident ever recorded in the county.