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Coastline threatened by oil again

PUBLISHED: 16:00 02 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 March 2010

OUR coastlines are being stalked by a deadly killer which could strike at any moment.

Today the Evening Star launches a campaign to ask why the oil tankers responsible for spewing their rancid guts upon our shores are still getting away with it.

OUR coastlines are being stalked by a deadly killer which could strike at any moment.

Today the Evening Star launches a campaign to ask why the oil tankers responsible for spewing their rancid guts upon our shores are still getting away with it.

Oil slicks cause sometimes irreversible damage to wildlife and areas of great natural beauty and it is time the tanker captains who allow the oil to pollute the land are made answerable – and prosecuted.

They have been defying the law for too long and something needs to be done.

Tonight we call on Environment Minister Michael Meacher to bring in tougher laws and make the prosecution of these polluters a top priority for the maritime agencies.

Mr Meacher and his department must act now before it is too late and Suffolk sees scenes like those in Spain where beaches have been left thick with the sludge of oil after the Prestige tanker accident.

Our campaign is launched as Greenpeace prepares to bring its flagship Rainbow Warrior to Ipswich to highlight the dangers of pollution.

Investigations are continuing to find the source of a slick which has killed more than 250 seabirds along the coast from Aldeburgh to Southwold, and left many more sick and covered in oil.

This weekend there was another slick washed ashore – this time at Dawlish and Teignmouth in Devon and Cornwall. Again many seabirds have been found dead and covered in oil. Again the ship which caused the pollution has not been found.

Oil from the slick which struck Suffolk was washed ashore on beaches from Southwold to Felixstowe. Signs on the shore now warn walkers not to venture near the high tide mark.

It is thought it was caused by a crew illegally washing the hold of a tanker at sea. Such irresponsible action is an ecological time bomb which can leave rare and beautiful birds and animals fighting for life – or worse.

Emergency operations were put in place and contaminated birds still alive, including guillemots and red throated divers, were taken to the RSPCA hospital at East Winch, Norfolk.

RSPCA spokeswoman Katie Deary said: "Since there is still oil in the water birds are still ingesting it and still coming in. We are getting plenty of calls."

The Maritime and Coastguard agency has sent samples of the oil away for analysis but fear it will be difficult to establish the exact cause of the pollution.

This is one of the many incidents which has blighted out coastlines nationwide and left the thick black calling card of potential disaster on our doorsteps.

The RSPB have been calling for tougher penalties for the illegal dumping of oil and said that oil spills claim the lives of thousands of birds each year.

n What do you think of the oil polluters? What should be done to stop tankers ruining our shores? Write to Evening Star letters at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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