Thousands of fish die as killer river sends airless water down from Tottenham through Hackney

fish©DA19scale: fish killed apparently by pollution in rivers Lea Navigation channel after fire in Garman Road N17 0UR next to Pymmes Brook, which flows into the Lea © david.altheer@gmail.com 260419
fish©DA19scale: fish killed apparently by pollution in rivers Lea Navigation channel after fire in Garman Road N17 0UR next to Pymmes Brook, which flows into the Lea © david.altheer@gmail.com 260419
Drifting with a host of aquatic plants, the bodies of thousands of fish, above and top

THE LEE IS A RIVER of death this long weekend as the bloated bodies of roach, carp, dace and other fish float down from Tottenham. 

A huge fire on an industrial estate in Garman Road, Tottenham N17 0UR, that took more than 100 firefighters two days to put out is believed to have de-oxygenated the water. Run-off from fires that seeps into streams, rivers or ponds all too often causes ecological catastrophes.

Members of the public alerted the authorities about the accident on the Lee (aka the Lea). The Environment Agency later said on social media that it was taking action to lessen the effect on the river.

fish©DA19coots: fish killed apparently by pollution in rivers Lea Navigation channel after fire in Garman Road N17 0UR next to Pymmes Brook, which flows into the Lea © david.altheer@gmail.com 260419
These voracious fledgling coots were born on a River Lee nest a few metres away

Loving Dalston asked the agency why the run-off from the fire, which apparently went into Pymmes Brook, was not prevented from entering the River Lea.

The agency told this site tonight that it was still investigating the cause of an estimated 2,000 “fish mortalities”.

It said: “We have been monitoring the river and taking samples and are in the process of determining the exact nature and extent of the incident. We have deployed aeration equipment as a precautionary measure to help support the oxygen level.” 

The London Fire Brigade had contacted the agency, as was usual when there was a danger of water pollution. 

The agency said: “We worked closely with the London Fire Brigade to reduce the impact of any runoff entering the Pymmes Brook.” Agency officers were on site soon after the start of the accident.

The London Fire Brigade has not yet established the cause of the fire. Police believe it started in a unit where cannabis was being grown.

Despite claims that the river has become cleaner over the years, some environmentalists claim it is still one of England’s most polluted. Extraordinarily, two anglers were trying to catch fish in the Lee today.

fish©DA19carp: fish killed apparently by pollution in rivers Lea Navigation channel after fire in Garman Road N17 0UR next to Pymmes Brook, which flows into the Lea © david.altheer@gmail.com 260419

One said he had hooked a large carp then thrown it back in the river. He added: “It’s a strong fish… it’ll be fine.”

Several metres away, Loving Dalston photographed a large dead carp, above.

David Altheer 260519

* Environment Agency  hotline: 0800 807060

* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com, and all for sale for reproduction. Most photographs are available in bigger formats

fish©DA19: fish, mostly roach in this pic, killed apparently by pollution in rivers Lea Navigation channel after fire in Garman Road N17 0UR next to Pymmes Brook, which flows into the Lea © david.altheer@gmail.com 260419
This house-barge has to push its way through hundreds of dead fish

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. 

* Backstory: Wrong kind of weather for fish; Dirty old river; A leisurely walk along the Lee; Turtles dumped in Hackney 

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