Cockle picking group in the contaminated Shoreham River

POLICE have been called to reports of people picking cockles from a river just days after sewage was released from a nearby beach.

A witness claims a group collected shellfish from the River Adur near the Norfolk Bridge in Shoreham on Tuesday.

Southern Water dumped sewage into Shoreham’s waterfront 16 times on August 25 – just five days before the group was spotted.

A man identified only as Tim took video of four people on Tuesday 30th.

The Argus: One of the group that was on the river bedOne of the group that was on the riverbed

He said: “I first saw what I thought were a group of people picking up rubbish from the river bed.

“After a few minutes of observation, it quickly became clear that they were looking for something else.

“I approached them and could see that they were armed with rubber gloves and carrying bags.”

It is illegal to harvest shellfish from the area to sell as it does not fall under food safety regulations.

Officials previously warned that seafood from the site is unfit for human consumption due to E.coli risks from contaminated water.

The Argus: people with bags seen leaving the riverPeople with bags seen leaving the river

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We have received reports of a group of people believed to have died on Tuesday 30th March.

“Officials were at the scene, but the group had moved on and could not be found.”

The council has previously warned the public not to approach anyone suspected of collecting shellfish from the area.

In a statement published online last month, Adur and Worthing Councils said: “If an individual has information that contaminated shellfish are entering the food chain from the Adur River and can provide details of anyone who has observed the removal of shellfish from that area please get in touch with us.”

The Argus: A person with one hand in the waterA person with one hand in the water

It comes after Southern Water released sewage on 13 beaches after heavy rains in August.

The water company drew criticism after August 16 video showed a large volume of brown sewage flowing out of a drainpipe near Splash Point in Seaford.

A spokeswoman said at the time: “Thunderstorms brought torrential downpours that fell on parched soils and could not absorb surface runoff, causing more rain than usual to inundate our grid.

The Argus: The group left the area as soon as they were confrontedThe group left the area as soon as they were confronted

“This resulted in some spillways – used to protect homes, schools, businesses and hospitals from flooding – dumping excess water into the sea in parts of Sussex, including Seaford.” Cockle picking group in the contaminated Shoreham River

Fry Electronics Team

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