RESIDENTS who spotted oil floating down the River Stour this week fear the pollution may have caused an "environmental disaster".

Ducks and herons have been spotted on the river banks covered in oil.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Wollaston resident Richard Willetts, whose Richardson Drive garden backs onto the river, says he managed to rescue one mallard duck which was collected by the RSPCA and taken to a wildlife treatment centre in Shropshire but it later died.

The other oil-covered birds remain unaccounted for and no fish have been seen swimming for the last few days since the spillage was first spotted on Sunday evening.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

A spokesman for the RSPCA said officers from the charity have attempted to catch a second duck seen covered in oil but it has flown away each time.

She added: "We will continue attempting to catch him.

"Cooking oil on birds' feathers damages their waterproofing, which causes them to lose body heat and stops them from feeding properly. If left untreated, it can be fatal."

The Environment Agency visited the river on Sunday to try and establish where the leak was coming from - and after joining forces with Severn Trent Water it was discovered vegetable oil had entered the waterway via a road drain in Cradley.

EA bosses say the oil has since been stopped from entering the drain and an investigation into the incident has been launched.

They have stressed they are working with the council to organise a clean-up and said the oil that has got into the water will disperse as it flows downstream.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Chris Withnell, team leader with the Environment Agency, said."While the oil on the water looks unpleasant, the impacts on the environment are low.” But residents, nature lovers and dog walkers who regularly stroll along the river fear the after effects could be worse than first thought.

Mr Willetts (pictured below) said: "They say the oil is not having an impact on the wildlife but that truly isn’t the case.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

"We have seen ducks, herons and even kingfishers get completely covered in oil, and some of them are dying.

"We’ve seen kingfishers fly into the river and not come back out again. As they dive in to get the fish they get covered in oil and it weighs them down so much that they can’t fly. It’s an environmental disaster."

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Gill Lawson, whose pointer dog Goat got covered in oil when he went for a dip in the river, added: "It's awful. All the wildlife's gone."

Environment Agency bosses are urging anyone who finds any adverse impact on the river, or any fish in distress, to call their 24/7 incident line on 0800 80 70 60.

The RSPCA also wants anyone who sees any affected wildlife to report it by calling 0300 1234 999.