Investigation launched after the River Ouseburn turns a strange colour

The Environment Agency is investigating pollution in the River Ouseburn which turned a strange colour overnight

The Ouseburn at Jesmond Dene which has turned a strange colour
The Ouseburn at Jesmond Dene which has turned a strange colour

An investigation has been launched after a North East river turned white overnight.

Dog walkers and runners were alarmed by the odd shades of milky white and green the River Ouseburn in Jesmond Dene, Newcastle, appeared to have turned yesterday.

Those enjoying the scenery on Thursday were shocked to notice the murky colour of the river which was also full of white foam along the route. Experts from the Environment Agency were called in and samples of the water were being tested to see what the cause of the colour change was.

It is believed a white substance was dumped in the water on Wednesday night and the Environment Agency said it had not ruled out the possibility that the pollutant had been dumped illegally.

Yesterday dog walkers kept their pets on a tight leash, although the Environment Agency said it did not appear that the substance had had a significant impact on wildlife.


Briohny Williams, of Gosforth, was walking her dogs Rupert, a cockapoo, and Bettsy, a cocker spaniel.

“It was disgusting,” she said. “A 100 metre stretch of the river was really discoloured. It stayed like that the entire time I was there.

“Bettsy was off her lead and I had to call her back because she was about to jump in for a swim.

“Other people were stopping their dogs going in too. There was no smell but it looked really bad.

“I walk the dogs on the Dene nearly every morning and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fellow dog walker Chris Moir said he was also keeping his pet, Lucy, on dry land.


“It looks like chemicals so I would be worried about the dog,” said the 30-year-old from High Heaton in Newcastle. “You do not know if someone has emptied drainage from their washer in there. I was planning on going and throwing sticks for the dog but I do not think I would now.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency is investigating an incident of pollution of the Ouseburn in Newcastle, following reports of a white substance which entered the water on Wednesday night.

“We are working with Northumbrian Water to identify the source of the pollutant, which appears to have come from a residential drain serving the area of Hepple Way in Gosforth. Northumbrian Water are using a vacuum tank to remove the pollutant from the sewer.

“Our investigating officers are assessing the impact of the substance on the watercourse and wildlife. We have taken water samples and an ecologist will be attending the Burn this morning, although it appears that the substance has not had a significant impact on wildlife.

“It is possible that the pollutant may have been dumped in the sewer illegally. If anyone has any information on this, or any other pollution incident, they are urged to contact our incident hotline on 0800 807060.”


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