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Action taken to contain new oil slick

PUBLISHED: 03:22 14 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

CONSERVATION officials were last night hoping an oil slick in the mouth of the Orwell Estuary would not affect wild bird populations.

Hundreds of gallons of oil leaked from a pipe at Felixstowe Oil Jetty into the estuary - a European Special Protection Area because of its importance for wading birds.

CONSERVATION officials were last night hoping an oil slick in the mouth of the Orwell Estuary would not affect wild bird populations.

Hundreds of gallons of oil leaked from a pipe at Felixstowe Oil Jetty into the estuary - a European Special Protection Area because of its importance for wading birds.

The Harwich Haven Authority co-ordinated the response, putting booms in place and using “gully suckers” – pipes which suck up oil like vacuum cleaners.

The Haven Hornbill, a special vessel equipped to deal with oil spills, was launched and further assistance was given by a trained emergency response team and personnel from Felixstowe and Ipswich ports.

A statement issued by the Haven Authority said last night that a total of three cubic metres of “recovered” oil had been spilled – about 600 gallons.

“At present sensitive areas within the Stour and Orwell river estuary have not been affected,” it said.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust said there was a report that some oil had reached the shore at Landguard Reach on the Suffolk side of the estuary.

Mick Wright, local trust warden, said: “We are keeping our fingers crossed that the oil does not come up the estuary and contaminate the saltmarshes.

“Many thousands of wading birds are feeding on the saltmarshes at this time of year and the impact could be serious.”

The latest spill comes only a few weeks after an oil slick killed scores of seabirds off the Suffolk coast between Dunwich and Lowestoft.

The cause of the coastal slick is still being investigated. Early reports blamed a tanker illegally cleaning out its tanks at sea but it was later claimed that the most likely explanation was the break-up of a wreck on the seabed.


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