Race against the clock to stop river pollution harming wildlife

Fish and other aquatic life on the River Witham are ‘under threat’ from a major oil spill on one of its tributaries.

That is the scenario that faced Environment Agency teams taking part in an emergency exercise on Tuesday 6 December on the North Delph.

Two teams joined in the exercise – dubbed Exercise Tyrwhitt – to test their pollution response capabilities.

They had to control the ‘oil’ on the water and prevent it causing more problems for the environment, water quality and wildlife.

James Brackenbury, Senior Environment Officer, said: “Exercise Tyrwhitt offered the chance for team members to take part in an exercise to deal with a situation that happens all too often.

“Staff from the different teams worked together to find new or more efficient ways of dealing with pollution incidents. These included deploying booms across the river and using absorbent pads to mop up the oil.

“Exercises like this one are a vital part of our training and help to ensure we are able to minimise the environmental impact of pollution incidents.”

The incident room at the Environment Agency office in Waterside House, Lincoln, was open to test responses from staff not present on the river bank.

Pollution incidents like the one in the exercise happen all too frequently but can be avoided. Homeowners and businesses alike can play their part by taking a few simple steps such as checking oil tanks and identifying where drains lead.

More information can be found by visiting the Environment Agency’s website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk or by calling the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506.

Anyone who sees or suspects pollution in a watercourse should contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

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