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Sick! Olympic Park 'river of death' to be dyed lurid green for festival finale

As part of the London Olympic Park reopening festival artists Bompas and Parr will contaminate the River Lea - which has suffered unprecedented pollution-related fish kills this week - with bulk quantities of fluorescein dye to turn it a lurid green.

The intention is to do this both tonight and on Sunday.

Inappropriate hardly suffices to describe their sound and light project, intended to 'delight the crowds' and apparently oblivious to the irony 'echo the ecological credentials of the park'.

Environment Agency workers have been desperately bagging rotting fish corpses and performing emergency aeration to the south of the Olympic Park to try and keep fish alive. Reports from the Open East festival site are that the river stinks. Many large dead fish are still visible just outside the park.

Yet Howard Davidson, Director South East, Environment Agency, has said of the event “The River Lea has dazzled tens of thousands of spectators tonight and its image will be unforgettable. The River Lea as centre stage in these festivities is a tribute to the Olympics and the many people who have worked so hard over the years to bring new life and vibrancy to the local environment for everyone to enjoy.”

The fish kill catastrophe along the Lea follows the introduction of the Prescott Lock prior to the Games, intended to create permanently deep non-tidal water within the Park, and the widening of the river as part of the landscaping. It had been predicted that these cosmetic alterations would slow its flow and interfere with the water system in the area, causing a build up of contaminants washed down from sewage works upstream and result in mass fish deaths.

Local people have been horrified by the sight of so many dead and dying fish and are likely to be unimpressed by yet another example of poor taste and disregard for the feelings of local communities, already antagonised by Olympic Park events such as the Electric Daisy carnival.

Safety notes for fluorescein dye state "Potential Acute Health Effects: Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation" and it is described as mutagenic for bacteria and yeasts.