AN 'oil spill' in a Carlisle river has sparked fears for the health of wildlife and pets - and led to a clean-up operation by Environment Agency officials.

The spill, affecting the waters of the River Caldew in Denton Holme, was confirmed by the agency yesterday.

The confirmation follows fears first appearing on social media on May 1, in which one member of the public issued a warning to residents near the Cummersdale Holmes area to keep dogs from swimming in the river to be sure not to be harmed by the leakage.

Images of the river show what appears to be a greenish scum on the water's surface.

An anonymous post from a local resident read: "Dog walkers using Cummersdale Holmes, do not let your dogs swim downstream of the Pirelli factory, there has been a chemical leak and the Environment Agency and Pirelli workers are present trying to discover what it is, how it happened, as well as clear it up.

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"You can tell something has leaked as there is a film over the river and an oily substance near the source, so don't let your dogs swim in it," they said. 

Concerns have also been raised about the potential damage to the surrounding wildlife that could be caused as a result of the spillage.

The stretch is home to birds such as kingfisher, and otters have also been seen on the river.

Another concerned resident wrote: "There is an oil spillage in the river Caldew in the bay. It has already been reported to environmental health.

"Very concerned about the danger to wildlife, if anyone else knows of another organisation to alert to this please do so." 

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "The Environment Agency are aware of an oil spill to the River Caldew to the west of Carlisle.

"Our investigations are currently ongoing into this incident so we would be unable to comment further at this time in order not to prejudice our enquiries.

"Members of the public can report incidents of this nature to our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60," they said.

The Caldew flows north from the affected site, through Carlisle, joining the Eden at Bitts Park. The extent of the damage caused is unknown at this time.

Pirelli UK have also been approached for comment.

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