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London 2012: not for fish or rabbits.

By Mike Wells

Dead fish down stream of Olympic ParkDead fish down stream of Olympic Park You gotta break some eggs to make an omelette. And apparently you gotta to do some damage for 3 weeks of sport. Which must be why, as a part of the Olympic Project, hundreds of rabbits were gassed to death, thousands of trees were cut down, and why 2.5 square kilometres of land was cleansed of small mammals and wild birds. Some people were also upset about the stray cats.

Within the Olympic zone are a large number of waterways, and now has come the chance for the fish in those waterways to pay the ultimate price.

The 5,000 volt Electric fence around the Olympic Park means it isn't the kind of place you can just turn up to check out an anonymous tip-off of fish kill.

My information was there were large numbers of dead fish which were being deliberately flushed out of the Olympic Park through a new lock. There were reports of an incredible stink from all the decomposing fish, and that the kill included top and bottom feeders, which led me to believe there may have been thousands of dead fish. I went to a place just downstream of the Olympic Park and found around thirty large dead and decomposing bream. As the fish kill had happened around a week and half previously, this fitted in with the tip-off, and had given the Olympic authorities time to flush most of the fish carcasses out of the Park...

The Olympic press office claimed it was few tens of dead fish, and that the … "fish kill didn't happen in the Olympic Park. It occurred up-stream" they told me. "There were some dead fish found in the Olympic Park which was nothing to do with anything that occurred in the Olympic Park", they claimed. The Olympic press office passed me onto the Environment Agency. The EA's press office told me ...

"We do not calculate estimates for such events. Our Environment Officers witnessed approximately 100 dead fish. It is likely that there were more, but we cannot speculate if and how many there were."

The EA alleged that the fish had died because the water had become depleted in oxygen and that this was a "natural" occurrence.

Local houseboat resident inpects dead and decomposing fish near London Olympic ParkLocal houseboat resident inpects dead and decomposing fish near London Olympic Park

What the EA and the Olympic press office were missing out of the story is that as part of the the Greenest-Olympics-Ever, Olympic bosses claimed they were going to move freight in and out of the Olympic zone by barge. In order to do this they told us it was necessary to spend £30 million on a new lock, which would maintain a high water level in the Olympic Park, and allow transit for barges from the Thames. Del Brenner of The London Waterways Commission told Olympic bosses this project was never viable, because of problems with tide and depth of water. Further more viable alternative locks already existed. But Mr Brenner's advice was not heeded. An unimpressive average of one barge a week has transited the new Lock.

But there never was a serious intent to move freight by water. The real reason for the project was to keep a high water level inside the Olympic Park so that the residents of the new waterside apartments would never have to witness unsightly mud at low tide. The lock project was essentially a property development project dressed up in a green costume.

But not only were Olympic chiefs not honest about this, they also knew that cutting the waterways in the Olympic Park off from the tidal flushing effect of the River Thames would mean that River Lea would have to supply all the water to the Olympic zone's waterways. But of course the poor old River Lea has its own problems.

Not only is tens of thousands of cubic metres of treated sewage (looks more like semi-treated) pumped into the Lea every day, also whenever it rains heavily, large quantities of neat untreated sewage is discharged into it. While further up-stream Thames Water Plc extract huge quantities of water from the Lea and pump it into the reservoirs dotted along the Lower Lea Valley. This causes the flow of fresh water in the Lea to drop to almost nothing during dry periods. In fact the Lea's flow during dry spells in all most solely from the treated or semi-treated sewage.

Prescott Lock which has impounded the waterways of the London Olympic ParkPrescott Lock which has impounded the waterways of the London Olympic Park

Despite living underwater fish live on oxygen. The problem with the River Lea is that during the dry summer months, due to water extraction, there simply isn't enough water-flow to provide a reliable supply of oxygen,

But now Olympic Chiefs have impounded the waterways of the Olympic Park, thus cutting it off from the tidal ebb and flow of the River Thames, the already compromised River-Lea-water cannot meet the demands for oxygen.

Not only was the construction of the new lock a waste of money, it was also bad planning, and bad ecological management. Also Olympic bosses are running the risk that dignitaries visiting London 2012 could be overwhelmed by the stink of rotting fish. Not funny at all.

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