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Llynfi 10,000 fish-kill investigation ongoing

Investigation teams continue to probe the source of the pollution that caused a major pollution incident on July 31 on the Afon Llynfi, a 'prolific' trout and grayling tributary of the Wye, and flagship fishery, which featured as one of 'The Magnificent Seven' wild trout Welsh streams in the September issue of FF&FT.

The dedicated Natural Resources Wales (NRW) team consists of both environment and regulatory officers bolstered by a team of laboratory analysts, NRW solicitors, fisheries officers, and biologists.

An NRW press release said team members have investigated a number of sites of interest and have spoken to the operators of those sites, and are following leads as samples have been taken for chemical and biological analysis. Team members have also spoken with local anglers and residents to gain more information to help inform the case.

Ann Weedy, operations manager for Natural Resources Wales in mid Wales said: "We know that local people care deeply about the river and are very upset about the impact this has had on the fish population. We share that concern and getting to the root cause of this incident remains our top priority.

"We also share the sense of impatience in wanting to know what polluted the river and where it came from. We are working as hard as we can and leaving no stone unturned to build up as strong a case as possible for any enforcement action. These things take time and we will provide updates as regularly as possible without jeopardising future enforcement action.

"The pollution that struck the Afon Llynfi has had a devastating impact. We are now confident that at least 10,000 fish have died and the wider river life and vegetation has also been impacted. This is not acceptable.

"Not only is the sheer scale of the incident extremely serious, it struck in a Special Area of Conservation which was an important habitat for species including bullheads, lamprey and crayfish."

Chemical and biological sample analysis have been returning from the laboratory and more results are expected in the near future. This analysis will inform the investigation.

The Llynfi was suffered another major fish-kill in 2016, but the source remained unidentified, and no-one was prosecuted. Then, it was four years into recovery. Local anglers estimate that the river will take at least 14 years to recover now, so long as no further incidents take place.

The Llynfi fish-kill is one of a long line of similar incidents which have occurred across Wales, and angling bodies have been imploring government intervention to arrest it, citing lack of legislation against polluters, under-funding of NRW enforcement personnel, and a lack of teeth for NRW's pollution enforcement. They accuse the government of deliberately dragging its heels.

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