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We have advised clients in a number of water pollution incidents, some have caused fish kills (see below) others have breached discharge consents but not caused fish mortalities (fish kill) or significant pollution. The types of water pollution incidents we have investigated include:

  • Sewage discharges and leaks
  • Sugar discharges and alleged discharges (sucrose and glucose)
  • Diesel spill on a tributary of the River Ray - paper published by permission of the client
  • Suspected hydrocarbon contamination of tuna
  • Mercury
  • Aluminium
  • Tributyltin (TBT)
  • Sulphuric acid
  • Acidic groundwater
  • Cationic flocculants
  • Run-off from a composting site
  • Trout farm effluent
  • Failed power supply to a trout farm
  • Construction


Aquatonics carries out investigations of fish deaths/mortalities (often known as fish kills) in streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries. We can provide Expert Witness or Expert Advisor inputs on factors responsible for the mortalities in various water bodies. Often more than a single factor is responsible for a fish kill, for example poor water quality combined with high summer temperatures and low dissolved oxygen. We have been involved in a variety of legal cases in the UK, including incidents downstream of a trout farm, mortalities due to industrial discharges, run-off into water after fires, diesel spills, and fish deaths attributed to aluminium and herbicide use.

Professor Anne Smith (Anne Brown) is a Director of Aquatonics Ltd and is internationally respected physiologist, with particular expertise in the impacts of pollutants and natural stressors on teleosts (bony fish) and elasmobranchs (sharks, dogfish, skates and rays). Dr Phil Smith specialises in the impacts of water pollution incidents on invertebrates.


We have given expert advisor and expert witness inputs to a wide range of legal practices, including:

  • Andrew Jackson Solicitors, Hull
  • Blackfords LLP, Cardiff
  • Bond Dickinson Solicitors, Plymouth
  • Dentons UKMEA LLP, London
  • Gabb and Co
  • Hammonds, Manchester
  • Hill Dickinson
  • Nalder and Son
  • Newsome Vaughan
  • Osborne Clarke
  • Sansbury Hill
  • Steeles Law
  • Symmetry Law
  • Thomlinson Kiddle Law Ltd
  • TLT Solicitors, Bristol

If you require free advice on a pollution incident please phone us on 01363 776456 or 07971 258594 (mobile). It is important to act quickly in order to gather relevant evidence.

Investigations Following a Fish Kill

  • Interviews with witnesses and others that may have relevant information
  • Site Investigations, including drainage from industrial premises
  • Meteorological conditions in the period up to and during the fish deaths
  • Surveys of freshwater invertebrates, including BMWP, ASPT and species level identifications
  • Electro-fishing studies
  • Chemical analysis of water quality
  • Chemical analysis of sediments
  • Chemical analysis of fish and/or invertebrates for contaminants
  • Post-mortems (with other specialists if necessary)
  • Literature reviews of specific toxic compounds

    Please click here for our Capability Statement on fish kills and water pollution incidents.

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