Cleaner will flow the Don

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The Independent Online
A TREATMENT PLANT opens today for what may be Britain's most polluted stretch of river.

The River Don in South Yorkshire is a pristine trout stream complete with kingfisher when it emerges from its source in a reservoir. When it reaches Penistone, six miles downstream, it turns orange.

Drain water from a coal mine abandoned in 1918 is the culprit. The mine is full of lurid iron deposits which are deadly to river life. No insect, plant or fish can survive in the stretch of the river which flows on to Sheffield.

The pounds 1.2m treatment plant will take the polluted water - a million gallons a day - into a lagoon where it will be cleaned and pumped back. Research is continuing to find a use for the iron residue. It may be used as a colourant for bricks.

The Environment Agency has joined with Yorkshire Water, the Coal Authority, a local building firm and Barnsley Council to develop the project. Half of the funding came from Europe.