Mystery foam invades English seaside town

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Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:20 am

Mystery foam engulfs northern seaside town

Foam blown from sea covering streets and houses of Cleveleys, near Blackpool, is thought to be non-polluted algal matter

Ian Sample, science correspondent

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 December 2011 18.31 GMT


There's no place like foam … Cleveleys, near Blackpool gets in a lather with foam blown in from the ocean. Photograph: MEN Syndication

A thick white blanket settled gently on the seaside town of Cleveleys near Blackpool on Wednesday, but this was no seasonal dusting of snow from above.

The Environment Agency dispatched officers to Princess Promenade to gather evidence as gobs of foam blew in from the sea and smothered streets, cars and houses.

The foam is whipped up by strong winds once or twice a year along the town's seafront and vanishes soon after, a spokeswoman for the agency told the Guardian.

Lab tests on samples collected in earlier years have found no signs of pollution. Decomposing algal matter is the prime suspect for the mysterious lather.

"It appears to be naturally occurring. When the tides and winds combine to churn dead algal matter up from the bottom of the sea, it produces this foam, which is quite dramatic," the spokeswoman said.

Officers visited Cleveleys on Wednesday and again on Thursday to collect more specimens to analyse. The results of the tests are expected to confirm the foam is natural and not caused by detergent in seawater or other pollution.

By studying the foam, the agency hopes to learn how and why it forms and so predict when the froth will return.

"If we can understand what conditions cause it, that will help us predict it and help local authorities involved in the cleanup operations," the spokeswoman said.

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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:24 am

Decomposing algae, eh? A likely story!
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Gillette shaving foam suspected in pollution scare
By Mike Pyle
August 05, 2011



Foam covers the water In Smallmead ditch.

A shaving foam giant could have come within a whisker of an environmental crisis had contractors not arrived in double quick time.

The workmen were called to tackle a thick white substance – believed to have been shaving foam discharged by toiletries giant Gillette – that was flowing into an offshoot of the River Kennet and killing fish there.

The worldwide firm is being investigated by the Environment Agency after a 200 metre stretch of the Smallmead Ditch near Bennet Road in South Reading was found to be thick with the white foam on Monday.

The substance has reduced the oxygen levels in the water, killing at least three fish – although it looks as though the company has had a bit of a close shave.

Had contractors not stopped the contamination from flowing into the Foudry Brook that runs by Madejski Stadium, it could have been a bigger problem.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the foam had reduced oxygen levels in the brook and several fish had already been found dead.

Thames Water is working with the EA and, although chemical analysis of the water is continuing, it is investigating whether the foam came from Gillette’s head office in nearby Basingstoke Road.

Thames Water spokesman Becky Johnson said: “It looks like it has come from Gillette and it is shaving foam and it ended up somehow getting into the surface water sewer.

“There are two sewers; the foul sewer which ends up at the treatment works and the surface water sewer which collects rainwater and that goes back into the river.”

Gillette’s parent company, Procter and Gamble (P&G), said it was working with the EA and Thames Water to get to the bottom of the issue.

Spokesman Karen Adamson-Lloyd said: “The EA has taken a sample of the outflow from our surface water drain and is analysing this against a sample taken from the river.

“We are co-operating with the authorities and have begun our own investigation to determine the cause of the residue.”

EA spokesman Hayley Willoughby said the problem in the watercourse had been contained and that although at least three fish had died, others had been seen alive.

Ms Willoughby added: “About 200 metres of the Smallmead Ditch has been polluted but the impact is not expected to escalate.

“The water is slow flowing, with a lot of weed present.

“These factors, combined with the booms that have been deployed, have held back the pollution.”

Tankers have been used to suck the foam from the water and carry it away.

Kennet Island resident Robert MacGregor said that he noticed the pollution on his way back from a walk in nearby Green Park.

“I think it’s an environmental crisis,” he said.

“If it’s Gillette that’s done this I think they should have to pay for the clean-up.”

A worker at the nearby Aston Martin garage in Bennet Road joked: “There’s going to be some clean-shaven fish down there now!”

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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:28 am

We name the guilty male grooming product:


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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:38 am

That said, algae does produce some startling effects in the Summer months on the Limehouse Cut, a canal very near to my place in East London:


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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  pinhedz on Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:55 am

Isn't it fertilizer run-off that makes the algae thrive like that.

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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:19 am

pinhedz wrote:Isn't it fertilizer run-off that makes the algae thrive like that.

Apart from the nearby "City Farms" in Mudchute (Isle of Dogs) and Stepney, this is an almost entirely urban landscape, with the exception of a few small neighbouring parks:



Pehaps Tower Hamlets council has been supplying dodgy products to its gardening staff which have found their way into the water table?

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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:25 am

What about upstream?

Imagine how much fertilizer is being poured onto places like the Lee Valley pitch and putt golf course, and washing into the canal with the rain runoff.

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Re: Mystery foam invades English seaside town

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