Pollution incident on the river Alun, Mold

Two weeks ago, the river Alun, one of the Dee’s largest tributaries, was the victim of a significant and devastating pollution incident. A fire at the Synthite factory in Mold resulted in formaldehyde entering the river and killing large numbers of fish and invertebrates. On Thursday the 2nd of May our trustee, Caroline Dawson, saw the damage first-hand, while on a walk along the river. She saw hundreds of dead fish as well as invertebrates and young fry gasping for air on the water’s edge along the 2km stretch downstream of the factory.  The full impact of this pollution event is significant, not just killing large numbers of fish downstream of the factory but polluting the river Dee and its estuary.

The river Alun has been a tributary of specific focus for the Welsh Dee Trust. We have worked with over 30 farms in the catchment to reduce agricultural pollution, restored over 5 kilometres of bankside habitat and improved in-channel habitat by adding large woody material.  This pollution incident will reverse the positive impact from many of the improvements we have made.

The exact source, cause and full extent of the damage are under investigation. We know Natural Resources Wales was on site and has undertaken a full count of the dead fish in the river. We hope the investigation will find out what went wrong, how it can be prevented from happening again and provide evidence for any prosecutions.

We hope to use this incident as a springboard for a much healthier river, free of pollution and full of wildlife. Once the investigation has been completed, we will be pushing for a significant, multiple-year project to improve the health of the river, and hope any enforcement action or fines as a result of this incident will be focussed on achieving this outcome.

In the meantime, we will continue to identify other sources of pollution in the river and monitor the impact of the Synthite pollution on our habitat restoration sites. Stay tuned for updates on our website and social media channels. Your support and dedication are invaluable as we work towards a river Alun free of pollution and full of wildlife.