Sussex

Criminal inquiry into Eastbourne lake sewage leak

A criminal investigation is under way following a major sewage leak which threatened fish at an East Sussex lake.

The Environment Agency (EA) said a large amount of sewage from Polegate had entered the water course feeding Shinewater lake in Eastbourne.

Incident manager Michael Turner said the agency was carrying out the criminal investigation into the cause of the leak. Police were not involved.

The EA and Southern Water have been at the lake non-stop since Wednesday.

The incident was first reported by members of the public.

The EA has the power to undertake criminal investigations under the Environmental Protection Act.

Oxygen level restored

Sewage is toxic to wildlife, particularly fish, which suffocates when oxygen levels in the water drop.

Mr Turner said that by Friday morning the water had been aerated sufficiently to restore oxygen levels. Prompt action had prevented a major fish kill.

He said the source of the pollution had now been traced and the discharge of sewage stopped.

"We are starting a criminal investigation," said Mr Turner.

"It is not something we particularly like doing - we would rather be spending time improving the environment.

"We are focusing on minimising the damage right now."

The EA will remain on site over the weekend to continue to boost oxygen levels in the lake, take water samples and divert watercourses away from the polluted areas.

Eastbourne Borough Council has advised angling clubs not to fish the lakes and said the public should avoid contact with the lakes and other watercourses in the area.

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