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River Thames: Cocaine

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 262457, tabled on 10 June 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 7 February 2019 to Question 216371 on River Thames: Cocaine, what progress his Department has made on tackling the level of cocaine found in eels in the Thames.

Answered on

18 June 2019

The Environment Agency (EA) does not have a remit to tackle illegal use of drugs but is involved in a number of initiatives which may help reduce their entry into the River Thames.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel, which is currently in construction and will be operational by 2023, will significantly reduce the frequency and volume of discharges of storm sewage and improve water quality in the tidal Thames. This will reduce levels of associated chemicals in the tidal river.

The EA is working with Thames Water and other water companies to undertake extensive investigations, to assess a wide range of chemicals entering rivers through wastewater treatment works. The investigations have shown that wastewater treatment works significantly reduce the concentrations of many chemicals before they are discharged to rivers. Although cocaine is not part of these investigations, it is likely that it will be similarly affected by wastewater treatment.