Clean-up after port oil spill

A HUGE clean-up operation was launched after a major diesel spill at a port that left several swans coated in the oil. About two-and-a-half tonnes of diesel leaked into the water on the Cliff Quay terminal at Ipswich port yesterday morning.

By Danielle Nuttall

A HUGE clean-up operation was launched after a major diesel spill at a port that left several swans coated in the oil.

About two-and-a-half tonnes of diesel leaked into the water on the Cliff Quay terminal at Ipswich port yesterday morning.

Teams of experts managed to contain the spill by putting booms on the water, but a major investigation is due to be launched to find out where the oil came from.

Ipswich port manager, Robert Smith, said the incident had been classed as a “Tier Two” spill because his officials had to call in outside experts to help them deal with it.

“We have informed the National Coastguard Agency, although they are not involved. But we have called in our usual external contractors and we are managing to control the spill,” he added.

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“The tide and the wind have helped us to keep the spill together until we managed to get the booms around the affected area.

“But there has been a serious effect on wildlife in that particular area – the RSPCA has been called in because several swans have been affected and will need to be cleaned up.”

Mr Smith said the initial spill happened during the early hours of the morning and a small amount of diesel had spread downstream, affecting yachts and more wildlife.

Meanwhile, rescue workers were carrying out the painstaking task of trying to find swans that had been caught up in the oil spill.

Officers from the RSPCA were combing the waters around Fox's Marina and the docks near the Orwell Bridge for the birds.

The swans have dispersed from the area as they look for land as the tide goes out, which means the workers will have to wait until they return.

RSPCA chief inspector Mark Thompson said: “The tide has gone out now, but I expect they will come back when the water rises again. Once we have got them in the marina they will not have enough space to fly because they need a run-up.”

He added that it could take three or four days to finish the operation, but praised dockworkers for their fast reactions when the oil spill occurred earlier this morning.

RSPCA officers went out in a boat at about 10am and rescued two cygnets, which were covered in thick tar, and one swan.

Jason Finch, one of the RSPCA team at the port, said he believed at least seven or eight swans had been affected by the oil spill.

The stricken birds are due to be taken to East Winch Wildlife Centre, near King's Lynn in Norfolk, to be cleaned up.

Ann Smith, from the East Winch centre, said: “Our procedure really depends on what the officers at the scene tell us. The swans are due to come here and we will deal with them accordingly.

“There are so many variables at the moment. It depends what they been oiled with and how much. Some may need to be washed quickly, but with others it may be best to leave them for a while.”

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