Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 16:48 UK

Sewage spill kills protected fish

Hundreds of fish have died in a New Forest river after a sewage spill from a pumping station, the Environment Agency has said.

It was reported Bartley Water at Ashurst had turned a milky colour.

Environmental teams found hundreds of dead or dying fish, including the protected bullhead and brook lamprey.

The sewage was discharged from a Southern Water pumping station after three pumps failed on Saturday. The firm said it "regretted" the incident.

The Environmental Agency worked with Southern Water throughout the weekend to reduce the impact of the incident.

They pumped a mixture of hydrogen peroxide into the river to break down the sewage and provide oxygen for fish and other species.

We very much regret any pollution incidents and apologise for them and will be carrying out a thorough investigation into the cause
Southern Water spokeswoman

Dave Robinson, of the Environment Agency, said: "Sewage can be very harmful to aquatic life as it contains ammonia and it strips the oxygen from the water with the effect of either poisoning or suffocating life in the river.

"Surveys of the affected stretch of river will be taking place over the next few days to assess the impact of the incident and plan how we can assist its recovery."

A Southern Water spokeswoman said: "Early indications suggest three of our pumps at a nearby pumping station had failed resulting in the spill.

"The pumping station was reset immediately on arrival and the pollution was stopped within 30 minutes.

"We very much regret any pollution incidents and apologise for them and will be carrying out a thorough investigation into the cause."

The Environment Agency is conducting its own investigation.


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