Clean-up begins after cyanide pollutes Trent

Thousands of fish have been killed in one of the worst pollution incidents in Britain this year, after cyanide was spilled into the river Trent in Staffordshire.

Environment Agency staff have been pumping oxygen into the river between Stoke-on-Trent and Yoxall after the deadly chemical damaged a sewage treatment works and caused further pollution from untreated waste. The agency warned that people and animals should stay out of the river, but later said that contamination levels were falling and the situation was now under control. However, it promised it would seek to prosecute those responsible.

If the case were to reach court there would be no limit on the fines which could be imposed. Avonmouth-based chemical company Sevalco was fined £240,000 in 2004 for deliberately discharging cyanide into the Severn Estuary.