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Oil not a slick, more a bucketful, claim

PUBLISHED: 19:45 10 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:11 03 March 2010

THIS is the amount of oil today in the slick off Suffolk's coastline - according to the guardians of our shores.

They say the slick, which has so far killed hundreds of seabirds and maimed many more, weighs less than six and half pounds in weight.

By RICHARD CORNWELL

Felixstowe editor

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk

THIS is the amount of oil today in the slick off Suffolk's coastline – according to the guardians of our shores.

They say the slick, which has so far killed hundreds of seabirds and maimed many more, weighs less than six and half pounds in weight.

It would not even fill a bucket.

Officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) counter pollution unit also insists that all that has been washed up is "small globules".

But the ridiculous suggestion is disputed by the RSPB and RSPCA, who say the real evidence is the 300 dead seabirds found so far and 600 contaminated ones.

The birds, including guillemots and red-throated divers, have been swept ashore between Aldeburgh and Great Yarmouth.

Their plight has been highlighted by The Evening Star's campaign Stop The Black Death, aimed at winning tougher action to stop pollution and which has gained support from all quarters.

Today coastal communities were bracing themselves for more mess on beaches and stricken seabirds coming ashore as bitterly-cold easterly winds continued to batter the county.

The MCA said four aerial surveillance flights had taken place to track the oil, since it was spotted eight miles off Sizewell.

Small globules had washed ashore mixed with seaweed and other detritus on the high tide line, and now all that remains is a sheen on the water, around 63 sq metres in area.

It had been calculated that the oil weighed in total three kilograms.

"Samples of oil were taken and subsequent analysis showed that the oil was a very heavily weathered fuel oil that had been at sea for some time. It has been therefore very difficult to link this oil to a particular vessel," said a spokesman.

"The Agency will make every effort where possible to catch the offenders, and to then consider appropriate action."

The oil-coated birds are being cared for at RSPCA hospitals.

But RSPCA spokeswoman Sari Eldridge felt the slick was far more serious than a bucketful of oil – and described it as "the worst incident we have faced along the east coast for some years.

"Although much of the oil has not yet reached the East Anglia's beaches, the slick is a disaster for the seabirds."

WEBLINK

www.mcga.gov.uk/pollution

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