Contamination reducing in polluted pond at Shipley Country Park

14 February 2018

Levels of contamination in a pond at Shipley Country Park are continuing to reduce following a liquid cyanide spillage which leaked into the water last week.

Around 400 litres of the chemical spilled from a delivery truck at an industrial unit on Adam's Close on Tuesday and into Adam's Pond, killing many fish and potentially other pond life.

While the park remains open and safe to use, visitors are being warned to keep out of the water in the pond and nearby Osborne's Pond.

Dr Sophia Makki, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Public Health England, East Midlands, said:

"The concentration levels of cyanide in the pond pose a very low risk to public health. As a precautionary measure we are advising the public to avoid any contact with the water until all testing is complete."

The Environment Agency − the national agency responsible for dealing with polluted watercourses − is monitoring the water quality. Results from samples taken show that while there are traces of cyanide in Osborne's Pond the level of contamination is low and the concentration of the chemical in both ponds is becoming more diluted.

Greg Oakes, Area Duty Manager from the Environment Agency, said:

"We are continuing to monitor the cyanide levels in the water.

"We put bags of activated carbon in place to help filter cyanide out of the water. The best course of action minimising risk to people and the environment is to wait for it to break down naturally and the recent heavy rain has helped with that process.

"Clearly there has been a lot of damage to Adam's Pond although we believe some fish may have survived. There are no signs of damage to fish stocks in Osborne's Pond at the moment but we'll continue to monitor and look for effects."

A report by Environment Agency National Centre for Environmental Toxicology has confirmed there is no significant risk to other wildlife which may have eaten dead fish from Adam's Pond.

Any risk from the cyanide comes from direct contact with the water or swallowing it and the levels found in Adam's Pond would require large amounts of pond water, several litres, to be swallowed for any effects to be seen. But there is no evidence to suggest that eating fish which has been exposed to cyanide is likely to harm wildlife.

Staff from the Environment Agency will be in the car park near the Visitors' Centre on Friday and Saturday to answer any questions park users might have about how they are dealing with the spillage.

The Environment Agency plans to contact businesses on the nearby industrial estate in the coming months to identify any pollution risks and offer help and advice about measures which can be put in place to prevent further incidents like this happening in the future.

Part of the Agency's role will also be to investigate the circumstances around the spillage and take enforcement action where necessary.

Our Strategic Director for Economy, Transport and Environment, Mike Ashworth, said:

"This incident has been extremely upsetting for visitors and staff. We know how much the local community value this park.

"We'll continue to take advice from the Environment Agency and Public Health England about the next steps and assist in any way we can.

"While the advice is to stay away from the water, the park is still safe to use and we're pleased people are continuing to visit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings."