ENVIRONMENT officers are investigating reports of a "pungent" smell and a potential oil spill in a Sussex river.

Residents are being urged to report traces of a potential oil or chemical spills in the River Adur in Shoreham.

Locals have reported a sewage-like smell coming from the waterway and they have described seeing "black material" on both sides of the river stretching around 200 metres.

Apparent oil in the sea near Portslade is also affecting seafront users and residents, as well as kite and windsurfers, swimmers and anglers.

Officials at Shoreham Port said some visitors to the beach may have seen “isolated areas of an oily sheen and globules of an oily substance” on the foreshore and at sea about 500 metres west of the east end of the port.

A statement on the port’s website said: “The oily substance seeping from the foreshore does not arise from any work practices at the port but is a legacy of the old Victorian coal gas works that once occupied the eastern end of, what is now, the port.

“It would be a great joy to be able to say that we had identified actions that could be taken to solve the problem quickly but we are afraid we are advised that there is no immediate action available that would resolve the problem.”

The Environment Agency said it is investigating the cause of the smell coming from the river.

A spokesman said: “Investigations are being undertaken by the Environment Agency and the local council to try and determine the cause of the smell.

“Recent water quality testing in the river prior to the appearance of these smells has continued to confirm the safe nature of the water flowing down the Adur, and testing in the immediate future will, we hope, continue these results.

“As we learn more, we will be in a better position to update the local community. We welcome reports from members of the public regarding pollution incidents so that we can take action to investigate.”