The beck foam mystery

BY Charlotte Mills and Nick Ahad A MYSTERY polluter has covered a pretty West Yorkshire beck with foam. And whoever is responsible could be hit with a £20,000 fine if environmental detectives track them down.

Someone has poured a pollutant into the water at Tyersal Beck, Pudsey, which runs between the outskirts of Bradford and Leeds.

"It's like someone's poured washing-up liquid into the beck. Mounds of foam appear at intervals down the stretch of water and we are having difficulty tracing the source," said Environment Agency officer Gavin Beat, who is leading the investigation.

The incident was reported to the Environment Agency just over a week ago when a resident whose garden the beck flows through became concerned at the height the foam.

The source of the pollution has not yet been found.

Environment Agency staff hoped the mild weather would help to break up the foam, which worried residents are still reporting and which looks as though it is drifting further downstream.

Mr Beat added: "It is likely that this was a one-off discharge into the beck, which is making it difficult to identify exactly where it came from.

"We've sent a sample of the water and foam to our laboratory for analysis and hope this may shed some light on the type of chemical causing this problem.

"We would really like to hear from members of the public who may be able to help us track down the source."

Anyone found guilty of polluting a watercourse faces a fine of up to 20,000 or a prison sentence if they are brought before the courts.

A spokeswoman from the Environment Agency added: "We have had calls about ducks being distressed by the foam in the beck – there have been calls about ducklings who were almost getting lost in the foam.

"There isn't a great deal of aquatic life on this particular stretch of water, so the impact on life is fairly limited, but the pollutant is causing a problem for vegetation and micro-organisms on the floor of the beck."

Anyone with information about the pollution at Tyersal Beck, or anywhere else, is asked to ring the Environment Agency's hotline on 0800 807060.