Fish killed as foam makes its way down the Thames

An investigation is underway to determine how a six-foot wall of fire fighting foam escaped into the Thames.

The foam was sighted last night by Thames lock keeper Peter Payne as it travelled through Lechdale weir. Further foam sightings have been made at Buscot, Radcot and Rushney locks.

So far the foam, which can cause irritation to the eyes and skin and should be avoided, has killed fish along a 3km stretch of Dudgrove Brook in Fairford, where the foam spillage was first reported.

The foam then travelled down the River Coln before escaping into the Thames.

Investigating officer Emma Bateman said: “We are keeping a close eye on the progress of the slug of foam down the Thames today, and we expect it to go through Oxford during the course of the day.

“It is not obvious to people while it travels along the main stretches of the water, but it may foam up naturally as it bubbles over the weir, and it can look quite impressive.

“We have received reports that people have suffered from sore throats and itchy eyes if they are near the foam, and if members of the public experience these symptoms they should seek medical advice.

“Fisheries officers are also assessing the impact of the foam on local wildlife and we will continue to do so. We won’t know exact figures of fish killed until the site has been cleared up properly. However, it will be some time before we know the full environmental impact of the pollution.”

The Environment Agency said it may have found the source of the pollution, but was unwilling to give details while the investigation is underway.

Photo: The foam at St John’s weir pool