DOZENS of dead fish have been found on the River Irwell after a diesel spill from a supermarket petrol station.

Reports of dead fish have been made in Radcliffe, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall following the spill at a Tesco petrol station in Haslingden on Thursday, July 3.

Tesco says the underground leak was stopped that morning and that there was no immediate danger to the public.

But Mike Duddy, chairman of Salford Friendly Anglers, a group which fishes on the Irwell, said there have been hundreds of dead fish on the river following the incident.

He said: “There were fish deaths reported downstream of Haslingden as far as Radcliffe, but these fish deaths appear to be in isolated pockets and number in the hundreds rather than the hundreds of thousands, which could have been expected if the pollution was allowed to move downstream unchecked.

“Thanks to the prompt response of United Utilities and the Environment Agency a potential catastrophe on the Irwell has been averted.”

The group has been leading a campaign to clean up the water, which was once known as Britain’s most polluted river.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We are providing advice on how to minimise the risk to the environment during the clean-up process.

A Tesco spokesman added: “The Environment Agency has been working with our engineers and other partner agencies to ensure the ground is cleaned up.”