Recent downpours behind reports of oil pollution in River Tyne, says Environment Agency

Oil pollution was reported in the River Tyne in Gateshead by Andy Smith, chair of the Friends of Dunston Staiths. Credit: Andy Smith

Recent heavy downpours have been blamed as the most likely cause of oil pollution in the River Tyne.

The Environment Agency was called to investigate what looked like oil pollution in the river in Gateshead on Wednesday 10 April.

The agency was alerted to the incident via X, formally Twitter, by the 'Save the Staiths' account, an organisation dedicated to the preservation of the Dunston Staiths in Gateshead.

The oil was discovered between the Staiths and the Quayside by Andy Smith, chair of the Friends of Dunston Staiths and administrator of the account, while on a walk shortly after 10am.

Mr Smith told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It was quite extensive. It looked more like fuel and it’s not the first time. A worry when there’s so much birdlife and other wildlife along the river now, including the occasional seal and otters.

“It was settling onto the mud flats as the tide was going out, which is also not good.”

The investigation into the incident has blamed the recent heavy downpours flushing fuel oil into the river as the most likely culprit.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We’ve received a report of oil on the Tyne near the Quayside this morning and environment officers have been out to investigate.

“Initial enquiries suggest it to be older fuel oil which has started to break apart, suggesting it’s likely been caused by the intense rainfall over recent days which has flushed it into the river through surface water drains.

“This has happened previously during similar wet weather events and we continue to work with local businesses to ensure fuel is well managed on sites.”

Dr Ceri Gibson, chief executive of the Tyne Rivers Trust said: “Incidences of pollution are of great concern to us as we are dedicated to the conservation of the Tyne river and to supporting the wildlife that is dependent on clean, healthy, and biodiverse rivers.

"We will therefore be monitoring this incident and any opportunities to achieve a long-term solution.”

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