Investigation into chemical spill still ongoing after three months

Three months on from a serious chemical spill in Fife which killed scores of fish, residents in a nearby village are still being warned of hazards.

An investigation into a Fife chemical spill is still ongoing after three months. Photograph: Getty Images An investigation into a Fife chemical spill is still ongoing after three months. Photograph: Getty Images

In May, a chemical leak from a source described by the Scotland Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) as an “agri-chemical” killed hundreds of fish at Ceres Burn. 

Locals had raised the alarm after large numbers of dead fish were spotted in the waterway that runs through the village. 

Ceres Burn flows into the river Eden, one of Fife’s principal rivers, before entering the North Sea via the Eden Estuary.

SEPA says it is still investigating the incident, and three months on, warning signs remain in place around the river.

However, although fish are reported to have begun to return to the burn, local resident Willie Mackenzie told regional news outlet The Courier that it’s “unclear as to how well the fish are doing. The warning signs are still up but they’ve been moved around”.

He added that “the lack of clarity from SEPA is strange and not helpful for folk who don’t know what to do.”

Confirming that the investigation is ongoing, a SEPA spokesperson said: “We are continuing to work closely with the local authority and a consultant working on behalf of the landowner.

“Signage remains in place to warn the public about any potential hazards at the burn.”

The incident in May is not the first chemical spill to affect the area. 

In 2018 Scottish Water was fined £6,700 following a spill of 500 litres of zetag, a chemical used to treat wastewater, into the river Eden.

SEPA’s investigation found a Scottish Water employee had accidentally punctured a large container of the chemical with the prongs of a forklift while trying to move it. 

It is reported that other Scottish Water employees then hosed the spilled chemical into a drain which discharges into the River Eden.

At the time, SEPA’s investigation found a lack of staff knowledge on the effects of zetag as well as a lack of training on chemical handling and emergency spill response. 

A SEPA spokesperson said in a statement: “We’d like to remind people that they can notify SEPA of potential pollution incidents 24 hours a day at www.sepa.org.uk/report or by calling the SEPA Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

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