River Crane Polluted

Crane fish kill

A two-metre valve (penstock) in a major sewer serving Heathrow Airport jammed shut on Saturday afternoon at Cranford Bridge on the A4 Bath Road while engineers carried out routine maintenance.

Initial attempts to re-open the valve were unsuccessful but, using custom-made hydraulic lifting equipment overnight, our engineers were able to force open the jammed shutter this morning (Mon).

While we are able to take a lot of backed-up sewage away in tanker lorries for treatment and enlarge a contingency pipe to bypass the problematic shutter, the volume of sewage was such that we were not able to tanker all of it.

Faced with the unpalatable choice of letting the remaining sewage back up into the airport or spill to the River Crane, we were forced to opt for the latter, resulting in sewage entering the river and damaging wildlife, which we deeply regret.

We are working with all those affected by this problem and with the Environment Agency, who are aware of our plan to tackle this problem as soon as possible.

Once normal flows resume, probably later this morning, some stronger than normal effluent will arrive at Mogden and this may cause elevated odour levels for a few hours, for which we wish to apologise in advance.

From Thames Water - External Affairs - Oct 31, 2011 12:20 Heathrow sewer penstock, River Crane

Crane fish killCrane fish killCrane fish kill

And the result - major fish-kill on the River Crane.

David Harvey of the Thames Anglers Conservancy checked Crane Park around the Hospital Bridge Roundabout area on Monday morning. He reported a revolting sickly stink; Water birds trying to get up in to the trees to roost rather than being on the water; Foul black residue and considerable numbers of dead fish, small and large, on the banks where the water level has receded. What should be clear healthy water is grey and stinking of effluent.

People should not paddle in the water and wash thoroughly after contact. We advise Dog walkers to keep their pets away from the water.

— from Ed Randall

31 October 2011 | news


Yet another case where the local wild life is totally disregarded.
First it was the Thames then the Wandle then the Ash and now the Grane. Thames Water should be taken to an industrial tribunal and found heavily for gross miss conduct. It will be years before this river is back to its best. They might as well throw all the bike frames and shopping trollies back in that were removed a few years back and call it an open drain.
When will this stop.

Mark Pells at 31 October 2011 3:00 PM

@Mark Pells: Absolutely agree, heaven forbid that we should see pictures of aircraft taxiing through raw sewage at Heathrow, much better to dump it in the Crane! They only understand money, it will not stop until the true environmental costs of these events are made to hit their balance sheets hard.

I did hear that the basement of at least one hotel near Heathrow was flooded out by the sewage though.

Even if you are not an angler you are invited to Join the Thames Anglers Conservancy free, http://www.rivertac.org/

Ed at 31 October 2011 3:20 PM

Terrible news. Not just for the Crane but the knock on effect to the waterways that link up with the Crane:- the Duke of Northumberland’s River, the Grand Union Canal and the Thames.

Paul Talling at 31 October 2011 3:22 PM

i phoned the environment agency around 9.20am yesterday whilst walking my dog in crane park….the scene was devestating…very very sad! just been down there again today…hardly any dead fish now just a few floating in the margins…it will take years for this already struggling river to recover

Clare Goodenough at 31 October 2011 5:14 PM

im gutted about this ,all the fish and wildlife this has affected,i’ve seen dead carp ,pike and chubb also the kingfisher population will be wiped out,it was bec oming a good river ,shame on you thames water…….

steve heath at 31 October 2011 6:52 PM

im gutted about this ,all the fish and wildlife this has affected,i’ve seen dead carp ,pike and chubb also the kingfisher population will be wiped out,it was bec oming a good river ,shame on you thames water…….

steve heath at 31 October 2011 6:54 PM

Dig deep Thames Water because you are going to need a lot of money to put this disater right !!!

Joy at 31 October 2011 7:57 PM

more on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15521355

Peter @ stmgrts.org.uk at 31 October 2011 8:02 PM

More photo’s on the TAC website: http://rivertac.org/site/?p=3518

Ed at 31 October 2011 10:25 PM

What thames water seems to be saying ,is that they didn’t want the expense of extracting all the waste,and NOT that it was not physically possible, if so this is a grave incidence of mammon triumphing over the needs of the public and the environment .

Kate at 1 November 2011 11:15 AM

I have lived by the River Crane for the past 6 years. I had the pleasure of spotting a kingfisher a few weeks back for the first time and was so excited that £400,000 of improvements were already having a positive impact.
It’s a few day’s on from the sewage spill and still not a small bird in sight. There is little hope that the kingfishers will return. The reason for this? Toilets in Heathrow being backed up?? This is an insult and the lack of more forthcoming information today is furthermore.

Amy at 1 November 2011 3:06 PM

Really sad. The weekend prior the volunteers were out doing some back breaking work to clear the river now a wasted effort. This has been a favourite walk and I think this is totally devastating. I really want to see some pressure applied on Thames Water and make sure they put in some serious effort to clean and restock the river with some haste. And ensure they have some oversight and incentive to keep the river clean in the future.

Alex at 1 November 2011 4:16 PM

Thames Water pledges to repair River Crane sewage spill damage

Ed at 1 November 2011 4:19 PM

Thames water are having a laugh are they not with their statement….i reported it to the enviroment agency at 9.20 on sunday MORNING…that sewage was well into that river by then…..!!!!!

Clare Goodenough at 1 November 2011 5:31 PM

Don’t blink, re-load that link above and the Ministry of Truth at TW have changed their statement! I have tracked down a copy of the first version and here are the differences:

Compare: (-) original version
with: (+) later version

- closed on Saturday afternoon in a trunk sewer at Cranford Bridge…
+ closed on Saturday morning in a trunk sewer at Cranford Bridge…

- From Sunday afternoon until 3am on Monday sewage spilled …
+ From Saturday until 3am on Monday sewage spilled …

Ed at 2 November 2011 4:36 PM

The Friends Of The River Crane Environment (FORCE http://www.force.org.uk/) state: We have been very saddened to see the effects of a major pollution incident in the River Crane . . On Sunday there was clear evidence of a major fish kill along the 10 kilometres of the lower River Crane, as well as the 5 kilometre linked channel known as the Duke of Northumberland’s River (DNR). The Environment Agency (EA) stated at the time that around 3000 fish were believed dead . .

Thames Water and the EA have pledged to do all they can to assess the damage and clean up the river. However this is likely to take a long time, largely governed by the natural recuperation processes of the river system. It could take weeks to flush out the worst of the pollution and several years to return to its previous ecological richness.

This is a particularly difficult blow for the Crane given all the hard work that has been done by FORCE members, Richmond and Hounslow councils, and many other organisations and individuals over the last few years to improve the river environment and its value for local people. FORCE is determined that this current situation will be overcome and the ongoing improvements to the surrounding green spaces will continue.

Rob Gray, Chair of FORCE said; “The Trustees and members of FORCE are shocked by this horrendous event and have been overwhelmed by calls and e-mails expressing concern about our well loved river. It is however essential to remember that the River Crane is not destroyed for good and it will recover”.

“Recovery will not be a quick fix and Thames Water needs to work with local groups and the EA, and to provide whatever is needed, fully funded over the long term to ensure a complete recovery. We are determined to ensure that as far as possible this situation should never occur again and will urge Thames Water to review and revise their systems so that no similar pollution event can happen.”

In the short term it is important for all riverside visitors to keep both themselves and their dogs out of the river until further notice. Despite the warning notices posted in the park by FORCE trustees, there were still dogs bathing in the river this week.

Christopher Squire [TypeKey Profile Page] at 2 November 2011 4:45 PM

And another change! Now TW say that the penstock was finally opened at 8am Monday!

Ed at 2 November 2011 11:55 PM

I retract that last comment, the statement had not changed a second time, it was late…

Ed at 3 November 2011 12:56 PM

Just in case my comment didn’t get through to this subject - we alerted NRA on 9th Oct that the river was deep black & stank We saw a crab trying to climb out near the Hill View Rd bridge. NRA phoned next day for details. Are they saying that there were 2 leaks ?

Stephen Alexander at 4 November 2011 9:56 AM

This is terrible, I saw something in the water from my home by the river but thought it was just the light and now I know.

It sounds like there were no emergency plans or preparation for something like this valve failure, hopefully Thames Water will make sure they are ready next time for something like this and have some procedures and equipment on hand so they can deal with it more quickly.

I think we have to take their word that they will help to clear up the spill and repair the damage, it is better to acknowledge the mistake and move on and try and fix it as best as can be done.

I’ve also recently seen a kingfisher and there is so much bird life around the stream and I hope it’s not too long before they can come back.

Dennis at 4 November 2011 9:56 AM

@STEPHEN ALEXANDER this incident occurred from Saturday 29th - Monday 31st October.
Whatever happened on 9th October was a separate incident. Did you get a reference number from your call to the EA, if so you can call them back and find out what they did.

Ed at 4 November 2011 3:24 PM

As a very careful dog owner and regular user of Crane Park, I was thoroughly upset to hear the news that the river had been seriously polluted. This soon turned to anger when I realised that I had only found out about the polluted river.. 10 or so days after the event. There were no signs for dog walkers and continue to be no signs on the Hounslow side of the Crane. There are only 2 signs (as far as I can see) on the Richmond side! One was put there at least 11 days after the event. No signs, nothing whatsoever by the regular swimming spots for dogs!!!
This must be a hard blow for those that have been working hard to improve the park over the past year. I truly hope that the airport is fined a substantial amount of money and that this money is used to help re-populate the river and encourage the return of our much loved wildlife, Kingfishers etc..

Abi Nimmo at 24 November 2011 7:37 PM

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