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Fish left dying in Rickmansworth stream after red diesel contamination
Thousands of litres of fuel have been leaked into a Rickmansworth stream, prompting a major clean-up operation.
As much as 5,000 litres of water contaminated with red diesel - which is commonly used in agriculture - was pumped from a section of the town ditch by contractors working through the night on December 21 and 22.
Floating booms and oil mats were then deployed in a section of the stream that runs between shops in Church Street and the Talbot Road car park to help clear the remaining fuel.
Despite these efforts residents have spotted a number of dead or dying fish in the stream, bringing back memories of the disastrous culvert clearance in Town Ditch during October 2011.
In that case work on the culverts in the stream by the Environmental Agency led to black silt being released into the water which killed nearly 50 fish and was branded an "environmental disaster" by Talbot Road residents.
The source of the recent oil spill is not known but the Environment Agency is currently investigating.
Rickmansworth Councillor Paula Hiscocks said: "Contractors have been down there trying to pump it all out.
"The council have had to organise this at huge cost because the ditch runs into our rivers.
"The contractor removed thousands of litres of oil from the river overnight and this is likely to have a bad effect on the fish.
"We need to find out what company or individual is responsible for this."
One Talbot Road resident said he noticed the water level was particularly high at the end of his garden and discovered fish trapped on top of the oil mats.
John Scott, environmental health commercial standards manager at Three Rivers District Council, said: "Diesel oil contamination was reported just before Christmas near Church Street and we immediately alerted the Environment Agency.
"Since then Agency staff have been busy removing the contaminated water by tanker and by soaking up the oil with mats and booms.
"Agency staff are working to identify the source. If anyone has information that might help it would be appreciated."