An investigation has been launched to uncover why the River Ouseburn turned frothy last weekend.

Pictures taken in Jesmond Dene on Sunday morning captured the alarming scene and officials are now trying to identify what caused the problem.

The Environment Agency (EA) confirmed that it has launched a probe into the pollution of the Ouseburn, but said that there does not appear to have been a negative impact on local wildlife.

The EA said it was "highly likely" that the mystery pollutant had entered the river through the surface water drainage system, which is designed for rainwater run-off, and asked people not to put anything down those drains that contains chemicals.

A spokesperson added: “We are investigating the causes and impact of pollution in the river Ouseburn at Jesmond Dene and have taken water samples to identify what has caused the issue.

“There doesn’t seem to have been an impact on wildlife to date, however, we will be carefully monitoring the situation.

“We are grateful to members of the public who report incidents of pollution. These are taken seriously and investigated to help protect the environment. Anyone who witnesses pollution can report it to our 24 hour incident hotline 0800 807060."

The Ouseburn in Jesmond Dene had turned frothy last Sunday morning
The Ouseburn in Jesmond Dene had turned frothy last Sunday morning

This is not the first time the Environment Agency has been called in to investigate strange goings on in the Ouseburn.

In 2011, huge volumes of white foam were seen in the water and traced upstream to a pipe near Salters Bridge – with suspicions that it may have been caused by a detergent being poured down a drain.

And in March 2014, passing runners and dog walkers were shocked to see the river had turned a murky green colour.

On that occasion, Northumbrian Water used a vacuum tank to remove a pollutant that had been dumped into a sewer.

The water company said that last weekend’s pollution issue in the Ouseburn was not linked to its network.

A spokesperson for Northumbrian Water said: “We received a number of calls and messages regarding a ‘frothy’ substance in the Ouseburn River. Our team visited the location and have found this is not linked to our network.

“We are supporting the Environment Agency in their investigation into the cause and source of the problem. We would like to thank those who got in touch to report this.”