Will we be Fishless?: Part IV

Whatever we humans do to counteract something which is troublesome, we seem to end up in a cycle of harm which we never intended.

Glasgow’s main river is the Clyde. Glasgow has been the location for heavy industries since the start of the industrial revolution. The population live with harmful pollution.

This is an extract from a news article:

“Poisons in the ground dumped by a former chemical factory are leaking into the river and urgent action is required, a regeneration agency has said.

Cancer-causing chromium-VI has been found flowing into the river, especially when it rains, from the site of the former Shawfield Chemical Works that has been closed for more than 50 years.

Contaminated land under Clydeside poses an immediate risk to human health because of toxic waste leaking into the River Clyde, politicians have been warned.”

The story of the aforementioned industrialist dynasty is here. As with all inventions during this age of invention, the White family flourished and became wealthy and highly respected. Throughout Britain their story can be replicated amongst many rags to riches industrialist endeavours. They did not know or understand anything other than the perceived benefits to mankind, not the future painful deaths caused by the contamination their works left as a legacy. We know better now, or we should. We have no excuse for such ignorance.

The Upper Clyde is so contaminated that fish can only be caught in sections of the lower Clyde. Atlantic Salmon were once plentiful:

“Current status
The River Clyde and its tributaries cover a large catchment area, and support a substantial
Brown Trout fishery. They were also known for large numbers of migratory Sea Trout
and Atlantic Salmon, but many decades of pollution from local heavy industries
eliminated these fish from the upper Clyde system. With the decline of heavy industry
and the introduction and enforcement of legislation to improve the environment the
Atlantic Salmon has returned to the river. The following plan, whilst largely concerned
with Atlantic Salmon will also serve to facilitate the Sea Trout (Salmo trutta).

The Atlantic Salmon has, over the last 30 years, re-colonised parts of the Clyde catchment
in increasing numbers, due to improvements in water quality and environmental
management work. Whilst declining Atlantic Salmon stocks in northern Europe and
North America are cause for international concern, in the Clyde catchment there has
been an increase in the numbers being reported. Most river habitats are used but
salmon require clean headwater streams with suitable grades of gravel bed for successful
spawning which takes place mainly in the autumn and early winter. There do not
appear to be any spawning grounds reported within the Glasgow City area.”

From the World History Project:

On 13th March, 1941, 236 Luftwaffe bombers attacked targets in the Clydebank area.

These included the shipyards, Dalnottar tank farm and large factories which were involved in making munitions, such as Singer’s Sewing Machine factory.

On 14th March, 1941, 203 bombers returned. This time they also attacked targets in the Glasgow area where there were shipyards and the important aero engine factory, Rolls Royce, in Hillington Industrial Estate.

During two devastating Luftwaffe air raids in 1941, the town of Clydebank in Scotland was largely destroyed. Over two nights, the 13th and 14th of March, the town suffered the worst destruction and civilian loss of life in all of Scotland. 528 people died, 617 people were seriously injured, and hundreds more were injured by blast debris.

Out of approximately 12,000 houses, only seven remained undamaged — with 4,000 completely destroyed and 4,500 severely damaged. Over 35,000 people were made homeless.

Clydebank’s production of ships and munitions for the Allies made it a target (similar to the Barrow Blitz). A total of 439 bombers dropped over 1,000 bombs. RAF fighters managed to shoot down two aircraft during the raid, but none were brought down by anti-aircraft fire.

Many wars have taken place around the world since WWII. Every weapon used leaves contamination. Unexploded devices continue to be found. The more wars, the more the contamination. Many Military areas used for training purposes leave contaminated land, rivers, seas and oceans. World Peace is a far off dream, ever receding. Contamination is ever increasing.

Troops ordered to clean up old weapons get personally contaminated.

During the Iraq war, American soldiers were unknowingly exposed to old chemical weapons long abandoned by Saddam Hussein’s regime. The story of the troops who were injured trying dismantle the contaminated weapons has been kept secret until now. Judy Woodruff learns more from C.J. Chivers of The New York Times about his investigation.

Knowing who owns land in Scotland would help us track and trace uses and abuses of this beautiful country. But land ownership details have long since become hidden from the enquiring mind and even campaigners have not yet been successful:

The public deserve access to information about who owns Scotland. It’s time to end the secrecy and the costs and open up all information (environmental, planning, valuation, tenure, ownership) in an accessible manner which is free and easy to use by the citizen.

Over the coming months, I invite those with an interest to join me in campaigning for greater transparency and openness in land information. Contact me at andy.wightman.msp@parliament.scot

Knowing who owns the land, seas, oceans, rivers on this Planet is of interest. Do the owners buy land in order to exploit it when they invest? Do they buy it to clean it up? What do you think?

Here in Scotland we have plenty of rivers and lakes, whose beauty renowned the world over. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency keeps residents informed of the quality of water in the country. Here is an extract from their quality indicator page:

“Prior to the rapid urbanisation of the 1800’s, Scotland’s rivers were of very good quality. The deterioration of river water quality throughout the 19th and 20th centuries was mainly caused by the discharge of sewage and changes in agricultural and industrial practices which accompanied the economic lifestyle of the time. Significant efforts to restore Scotland’s rivers did not occur until 1965. Reductions in heavy industry, the enforcement of new legislation and heightened environmental awareness have all contributed to improvements in river quality.

Between 1992 and 2011, the proportion of river length for which river quality could not be calculated fell from 6.2% to 0%.  Most of these water bodies were subsequently classed as unpolluted or unimpacted by pollution.

The proportion of river length that was classed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted in Scotland rose from 6.8% in 1992, to 7.4% in 1998, before falling to 2.3% in 2012 and then rising to 3.4% in 2013.  The main drivers of slightly polluted, polluted and severely polluted rivers are inputs of nutrients, leading to degraded biological and nutrient quality.

In light of increasing data and understanding about environmental pressures and ecological impact, two of the Water Framework Directive standards used in the indicator calculation were changed in 2013.  These were invertebrates and phosphorus.  In 2013, the indicator was calculated with both the old and the new standards in order that a comparison could be made. The proportion of river length assessed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted in 2013 was 3.4% using the old standards and 3.7% using the new standards.

From 2014 data was calculated with just the new standards.

In 2018, the proportion of river length classed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted was 3%.

Most of us who have a pet use flea and tick treatment to protect us from serious illness those insects could inflict on us. These are pesticides and now recent studies of English rivers has found there is major detrimental harm being done as we speak, to the vital food chain of insect life in our rivers.

Below is a link to the recent study:


Environmental impact of pesticides used in veterinary flea treatments largely unknown

Analysis of potential sources of fiprole and imidacloprid in English rivers

Comparison of Environment Agency water monitoring data with reported toxicity limits

Sewage works indicated as a possible route to rivers for fiproles and imidacloprid

Veterinary flea products are a potential source of pollution and ecosystem harm

Researchers are studying rivers because we can see with our eyes they are not as healthy as they were, carrying algae from phosphates or when tested, carrying dangerous toxins from our homes and businesses. In New Zealand, a study found 60% of rivers were too dangerous to swim in due to the harmful chemicals analysed, so what chance does aquatic life have? The answer is a resounding ZERO!

Stopping phosphate pollution isn’t easy, because phosphate isn’t just in fertiliser, in fact runoff from farmland contributes only around a quarter of phosphate in rivers, and farmers have been working hard with support from Catchment Sensitive Farming Advisors from ARK and Natural England to reduce the loss of fertilisers and soils from their land.

The remainder comes from waste water generated by our homes and businesses.  There have been significant improvements in waste water treatment standards, but phosphate can’t easily be removed at all water treatment works. 

Along the Kennet, many of the larger sewage treatment works do have phosphate stripping technology to reduce the amount of phosphate in effluent, but the village works don’t have this benefit. What is more, private systems like septic tanks can’t remove phosphate at all, they discharge phosphate-rich effluent directly into the environment.

What can we do to help?

Every householder can easily help to make a difference – phosphates used in domestic cleaning products account for nearly a fifth of the phosphate in our waste water

So some selective shopping can prevent this chemical being discharged into our rivers.

Many cleaning products have a high phosphate content, despite changes in legislation to reduce levels in laundry detergent.  Dishwasher detergents are a particular culprit with some containing over a third by weight, but low-phosphate alternatives are available – aim for those containing 5% or less.

We all may want to help Mother Nature recover from our abuses. We can play our part by enquiry; use information to influence our choices when buying goods and products manufactured with her health in mind.

We can also choose careers which will not promote harm to her. We can carry out activities which lessen the danger to her. We can teach our children how to respect her.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
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2 Responses to Will we be Fishless?: Part IV

  1. Pingback: Conscious Disregard, continued…….. | borderslynn

  2. Pingback: C02 and Agricultural Practices | borderslynn

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