Port company to pay for oil clean up

A PORT company is to pay for the RSPCA rescue operation following a serious oil spill off East Anglia.About 2,000 gallons of oil spilled into Harwich Harbour from Felixstowe Port two weeks ago and some contaminated birds within the Orwell and Stour Estuary, which is a wildlife area of international importance.

A PORT company is to pay for the RSPCA rescue operation following a serious oil spill off East Anglia.

About 2,000 gallons of oil spilled into Harwich Harbour from Felixstowe Port two weeks ago and some contaminated birds within the Orwell and Stour Estuary, which is a wildlife area of international importance.

Oil pollution along a stretch of the north Essex coast was also blamed on the spill

The RSPCA rescued scores of oiled birds, many of them swans which are still being cared for at the society's wildlife hospital at East Winch, near Kings Lynn.


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The Environment Agency is investigating the pollution incident and a decision is likely within a few weeks on whether there are grounds for a prosecution.

Felixstowe Port revealed yesterday that soon after the spill it had contacted the RSPCA with an offer to make a donation covering the costs.

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Port spokesman, Paul Davey, said the total being donated was not being disclosed but it amounted to "several thousand pounds".

Mr Davey said it was likely the money would come from the finances of Felixstowe Tank Developments (FTD), a subsidiary of the company which owns the port, Hutchison Ports UK.

The oil spilled from a fractured pipeline while it was being transferred to the oil jetty, operated by FTD.

Mr Davey said an internal investigation was being carried out into the oil spill, alongside an independent inquiry by the Environment Agency. "We are co-operating fully with the agency's investigation," he said.

It is not known whether the result of either investigation will be made public.

Port officials are to take part in an "inquest" session on the emergency response to the spill – dealt with by a special team co-ordinated by the Harwich Haven Authority, to see if any lessons can be learned.

Mark Thompson, RSPCA chief inspector in Suffolk, said port's donation was a "very generous" gesture.

"It will certainly help cover the cost of efforts by my staff who spent many hours out in boats and on the shores of the estuaries recovering oiled birds," he said.

Chris McArthur, a senior official with the Environment Agency, said samples of oil and other materials had been taken from the area around the source of the spill and interviews were still being carried out.

"A prosecution is being considered but a decision has not yet been made," he added.

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