Over the 29th – 31st October 2011, the River Crane in West London was hit by a devastating pollution incident which wiped out an entire seven mile stretch of the river.
Raw sewage was discharged from an outfall close to the A4 Bath Road in Cranford following routine maintenance by Thames Water on a main sewer.
A six-tonne,cast-iron Penstock valve used to control flows jammed closed on Saturday 30th October causing raw sewage to build up. Although engineers were able to take a much of the backed-up sewage away, the volume of sewage was such that they were not able to tanker all of it away.
Faced with the unpalatable choice of letting the remaining sewage back up into the airport or spill to the River Crane, Thames Water was forced to opt for the latter. From Saturday until 3am on Monday morning sewage spilled intermittently to the river destroying all life.
All attempts to re-open the Penstock gate were not successful until early on Monday morning when engineers used custom made lifting equipment to force it open.
Estimates from the Environment Agency were that the Crane suffered a total loss of all fish with as many as 10,000 being killed. Initial surveys showed that no Invertebrates survived the devastation. The river Crane is home to lots of wildlife including an important Vole population which may have been unaffected, but is being monitored for long term effects. Organisations such as the London Wildlife Trust and Friends of the River Crane Environment have seen many years of work affected over a single weekend.
The fish stocks killed included countless mature Barbel, Chub, Carp and Roach along with Pike, Eels, Dace and many other species. The true cost to the river may will be known as many fish would have been washed into the Tidal Thames by the sewage surge.
Thames Water has accepted full responsibility and is working with conservation and community groups along with the Thames Anglers Conservancy and Angling Trust to restore the river to a historical status.
The Thames Anglers Conservancy are pressing Thames Water to investigate all critical sewer infrastructure near our valuable river networks. This incident whilst seemingly unavoidable, highlights again that it is unacceptable in a modern age to have CSO's depositing raw sewage into our rivers, destroying all wildlife and creating a severe health hazard for recreational users.
In June 2012 Thames Water confirmed a voluntary fund of £400,000 to support initiatives along this important river corridor, this fund will be administered by the Crane Valley Partnership.
In October 2013 the River Crane was destroyed by a new and devasting pollution incident undoing most of the good work over the previous 2-years. Initial blame was cast towards Thames Water but an investigation showed it was vandalism to one of their pipes. This new total fish kill shows just how vunberable the river is, and has set it back by many years.
News and Updates on the River Crane Pollution 2011
16/01/2013 New life for Polluted River Crane
28/04/2012 EA pollution update
31/10/2011 River Crane Pollution
London Wildlife Trust
31/05/2012 Fish start to return to the Crane
15/03/2012 Thames Water cleaning up the Crane
09/03/2012 Crane kick sampling
13/01/2012 River Crane starts slow Recovery
02/12/2011 River Crane Latest
22/11/2011 Charity prepares to help clean up Crane
04/11/2011 River Crane Pollution Latest
01/11/2011 River Crane Sewage Incident
Friend of the River Crane Environment
31/10/2012 River Crane Pollution - One year on
04/06/2012 FORCE Crane Update
06/03/2012 FORCE Update
09/11/2011 River Crane Pollution Update
17/12/2012 Briefing note on the River Crane Pollution
01/11/2011 Seven Miles of river life wiped out
News and media reports
26/10/2012 Fish back in River Crane a year after Pollution (Hounslow Chronicle)
15/01/2013 River Crane pollution – Fish restocking (St Margaret Community Website)
26/10/2012 River Crane returning to life after sewage spill (Hounslow Chronicle)
14/06/2012 Update on River Crane Sewage Spill (twickerati)
06/06/2012 Thames Waters £400k for the Crane (Urbantrout.net)
04/06/2012 River Crane – good news at last (Fishing Magic)
04/06/2012 Thames Water to fund Crane restoration (Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine)
02/06/2012 River Crane moving back from the brink (St Margaret Community Website)
28/12/2011 Snail was sole survivor of Crane pollution (Hounslow Chronicle)
09/11/2011 Thames Water to pay up over sewage in River Crane (Hounslow Chronicle)
07/11/2011 River Crane destroyed (Total Coarse Fishing)
03/11/2011 Thames Water's dilemma: flood Heathrow or a river with sewage? (www.guardian.co.uk)
01/11/2011 River Crane destroyed by sewage spill (Richmond and Twickenham Times)
31/10/2011 River Crane Polluted (St Margaret Community Website)