Fresh oil pollution fear at River Dove

CONCERN: river keeper Andy Heath at one of the defences erected by the Environment Agency. NBUA120220A.
CONCERN: river keeper Andy Heath at one of the defences erected by the Environment Agency. NBUA120220A.

pollution continues to threaten one of the nation’s most iconic waterways more than two months after the discovery of an oil leak from an abandoned factory in Hartington.

Environmentalists have battled to protect the River Dove from oil which in February leaked from a vandalised electrical transformer at the village’s former cheese factory into a tributary serving the environmentally-sensitive watercourse.

Despite the installation and regular replenishment of oil absorbent materials, and almost daily checks, the Environment Agency this week confirmed that a small amount of oil continued to discharge from the outlet of the culverted tributary of the River Dove, on Stonewell Lane.

A spokesperson told the Advertiser: “This is largely contained by the oil absorbents we have placed in the tributary. We do not know if oil is still gaining entry into the culvert from the initial spill to ground, or as a result of oil being displaced from old sediments accumulated in the culvert.

“Since the initial report, we have checked the River Dove ourselves regularly and have not seen any oil, other than small amounts in the immediate vicinity of the confluence of the tributary and the river.”

Late last month, the Agency was forced to carry out urgent remedial work due to the pollution. The body continues to pursue those responsible.

“We dug five trial pits around the transformer to see if we could identify any oil in the ground,” the spokesperson continued.

“Where we did find a small amount of oil we have taken a sample for oil analysis.

“Once we have received the results of the oil analysis, we will review what further work is required.”

The Agency said a biological survey on the River Dove, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, just a week after the pollution was first reported had revealed no major impact on the river.

Susan Bowen, from the Environment Agency, added: “We understand the concerns of local people, business and visitors to this beauty spot and that is why we are doing everything we can to take action on this issue.

“We are particularly aware of the concerns of the local angling clubs on the River Dove who have been contacting us for reassurance that their fishing will not be affected by this incident.”