Mystery foam polluting River Ouseburn sparks criminal probe

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The source of the unknown substance has since been "isolated"

A criminal investigation has begun into a serious case of pollution in the River Ouseburn in Newcastle.

The Environment Agency has been trying to discover why parts of the river at Jesmond Dene have been covered in a mysterious white foam since April.

The source of the unknown substance has since been "isolated" and pipes are being cleaned to remove it.

Warning signs remain and people have been advised not to go into the river until work has been completed.

The Environment Agency previously said it was "highly likely" the pollutant had entered the river through the surface water drainage system - designed for rainwater run-off - and asked people not to put anything containing chemicals down those drains.

The foam was first spotted in the river in April

Urban Green, the charity which runs Newcastle's parks, said the Environment Agency was working with Northumbrian Water to clean the pipes.

It is understood that water quality samples have been sent for analysis.

An Environment Agency confirmed there was "an ongoing criminal investigation into the pollution incident". Fines could be imposed if there is a successful prosecution.

A successful prosecution could see fines imposed on those responsible

Signs posted next to the river describe the situation as a "major pollution incident", the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

It is not the first time the Ouseburn has been hit with pollution problems.

In 2011, huge volumes of white foam were seen in the water and traced upstream to a pipe near Salters Bridge - with suspicions it may have been caused by a detergent being poured down a drain.

Three years later, joggers and dog walkers were shocked to see the river had turned a murky green colour.

On that occasion, Northumbrian Water used a vacuum tank to remove a pollutant that had been dumped into a sewer.

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