A huge clean-up operation is underway after hundreds of gallons of slurry polluted the Wellow Brook.
A slippage from a cattle slurry lagoon at a farm saw the toxic waste make its way into the river just downstream from Radstock on Saturday afternoon which has already caused major damage to the river close to Wellow and Shoscombe
The president of a local fishing club has spoken of his heartache after the incident which he fears may have ruined the river and the local environment for years to come.
Rob Whish from the Avon and Tributaries Angling Association, which has exclusive fishing rights to many rivers and brooks within Bath and the surrounding area, said: "A tremendous amount of cattle slurry entered the Wellow Brook just down from Radstock as it flows towards Wellow and Shoscombe. I believe it was around 100,000 gallons of slurry although representatives from the Environment Agency tell me it could be way more than that. One resident described it as a tsunami of slurry. It looked disgusting and smelt horrible."
Mr. Whish said a 'significant' number of trout has already died and said a team of club members pulled out more than 50 dead fish in just half an hour on Sunday.
He added: "It is very difficult to put a precise number of the amount of fish that will be lost and until the Environment Agency tests are complete it is hard to predict the real damage. It is desperately sad. Over the past few years we have worked on the Wellow Brook to improve the river and encourage more fish and wildlife. It is tragic for club members who have put in so much hard work – we counted up that we have done more than 160 hours of improvement work over the winter alone. It is a disaster not just for the fishing club but because of the serious environmental damage it has caused. At the moment we are monitoring the rivers and streams and the good news is it has only made it as far down stream as Midford. The impact has been lessened by the high water levels and low temperatures. The critical question is the affect the pollution has had on invertebrate in the river. If they have been killed the river has been left sterile as there will then be no food for the fish or birds and it could take many, many years for the river to recover."
Mr Whish thanked both the Environment Agency and Angling Trust for their support and said the organisations had promised to work with the angling club to restore the river.
The Environment Agency has not yet released a statement on the incident.