Probe at port after crew spots oil slick

AN INVESTIGATION was under way today after hundreds of litres of oil leaked into the water at Felixstowe port.Operations to contain and recover the oil took place yesterday after the slick was spotted just after midnight.

AN INVESTIGATION was under way today after hundreds of litres of oil leaked into the water at Felixstowe port.

Operations to contain and recover the oil took place yesterday after the slick was spotted just after midnight.

The leakage - which disrupted operations at the port yesterday morning - had initially raised fears for wading birds and wildlife in the area.

The alarm was raised by crew members of the Maersk Brisbane container ship, who spotted the oil in the water nearby.

Early estimates were that 200 litres were spilled into the water and specialist teams were sent to contain and recover the slick.

The oil had been contained and was largely dispersed by mid-afternoon, according to port officials.

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Paul Davey, port spokesman, said: “The oil was spotted just after midnight by the pilot and the crew of Maersk Brisbane.

“The Maersk Brisbane was delayed sailing and a couple of vessels were delayed berthing but it did not cause too much of a disturbance - we worked around it.

“We used booms to contain the oil and the majority was recovered quite quickly, using scoops and skimmers.

“The appropriate authorities were informed of the incident and an investigation is under way into the cause.”

The Environment Agency was believed to be taking the lead role in the investigation, working with local harbour authorities.

Chris Durdin, regional spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said there were a relatively low number of wading birds at this time of year.

“Inevitably when oil gets in the water some gulls will pick up oil in their plumage and it's likely people will see gulls with oil in their plumage for a few days. But it is a relatively small amount of spillage and is not likely to lead to fatalities,” he said.

“Every responsible port should have a plan for this kind of incident and it appears it has been dealt with appropriately, with the right kit, expertise and planning.”

A spokeswoman for shipping firm Maersk said it was looking into the circumstances of the incident.

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