Glastonbury Festival: Environmentally damaging levels of MDMA and Cocaine found in river

·2-min read
Glastonbury Festival in 2019  (PA Archive)
Glastonbury Festival in 2019 (PA Archive)

Scientists have warned festival-goers of the environmentally damaging levels of Class A drugs found in a river on the site of the Glastonbury Festival.

“Dangerous” levels of MDMA and cocaine to wildlife were found in the Whitelake River in Somerset after researchers took measurements at the festival in 2019 headlined by Stormzy, the Killers and the Cure.

The experts fear the levels, which were found to “quadruple” in the week after the festival, could even cause harm to the conservation of rare European eels in the area.

It is believed that festival-goers failing to urinate in the toilets causes the spike after their waste enters the freshwater.

Dr Christian Dunn, from Bangor University, said: “Our main concern is the environmental impact. This study identifies that drugs are being released at levels high enough to disrupt the lifecycle of the European eel.

“We [also] need to raise awareness around drug and pharmaceutical waste - it is a hidden, worryingly-understudied yet potentially devastating pollutant.”

Dan Aberg, a Masters student in the School of Natural Sciences at the university, added: “Illicit drug contamination from public urination happens at every music festival.

“Unfortunately, Glastonbury Festival’s close proximity to a river results in any drugs released by festival attendees having little time to degrade in the soil before entering the fragile freshwater ecosystem.”

Festival goers queue for the 'long drop' toilet facilities at the Glastonbury Festival, (PA)
Festival goers queue for the 'long drop' toilet facilities at the Glastonbury Festival, (PA)

A spokesman for Glastonbury Festival said the Environment Agency had not raised any concerns with them on the matter following the 2019 event.

He said: “Protecting our local streams and wildlife is of paramount importance to us at Glastonbury Festival and we have a thorough and successful waterways sampling regime in place during each festival, as agreed with the Environment Agency.

“We are aware that the biggest threat to our waterways - and the wildlife for which they provide a habitat - comes from festivalgoers urinating on the land.”

It does not condone the use of illegal drugs and continues to “successfully strongly discourage” public urination, he added.

“We are keen to see full details of this new research, and would be very happy to work with the researchers,” the spokesman said.

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