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Thousands of fish killed on stretch of Cork river

At least 5,000 fish have died along a 4km stretch of the River Let in Co Cork following a suspected leak from the nearby Uisce Éireann water treatment plant.

An investigation is currently underway involving a number of government agencies, including Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats.

Source: Inland Fisheries in Ireland

The pollution incident occurred in a special conservation area on the River Let, a tributary of the Munster Blackwater catchment at Freemount in the north of the county.

The region has previously benefited from EU funds to restore water quality as the Permit is considered an environmentally sensitive location which is not only a known fish spawning habitat but also hosts a population of endangered and protected freshwater pearl mussels.

Uisce Éireann operates a water treatment plant at Freemount and said it was investigating a reported leak at the plant.

“Uisce Éireann has engaged with the IFI and the EPA has been notified,” it said.

IFI officers are still trying to determine the scale of the killing, as dead fish have been observed up to four kilometers below the source site.

Species of dead fish found include juvenile Atlantic salmon, brown trout, lamprey, eel, silver smelt, roach and dace.

According to the IFI, water samples were taken from the river to gather evidence on the discharge and source of contamination for possible prosecution.

IFI’s director for the southwest region, Sean Long, said the affected site was “a place of devastation” and the river was “littered with dead fish” and “no insects or any signs of life in the area.”