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2400 Birds Now Dead in Southwest Pollution Spill

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7:02am 3rd May 2013

Conservationists say dead seabirds washing up on Cornish beaches is "one of the worst marine pollution incidents in decades."

The number killed by the sticky chemical PIB has hit nearly two and a half thousand.

Experts say that's more than the Napoli oil slick of 2007.

They are calling for the government to tighten up rules.

Tony Whitehead, speaking for the RSPB in south west England said; “This is one of the worst marine pollution incidents in decades, bringing to mind other disasters going right back to the Torrey Canyon in 1967. It has sadly already exceeded the number of birds affected following the beaching of the MSC Napoli in Devon in 2007.

"This is another a sobering reminder of the fragility of our marine environment and a wake up call that we must work much harder to give proper protection to our precious sealife.”

Adam Grogan from the RSPCA said: “The dumping at sea of this lethal chemical must be stopped.

“It was heart-breaking enough after the first incident in February to see so many birds arrive at our centres in such a poor state. The sticky substance coated their feathers and made it difficult for them to feed and move so staff had to work around the clock to wash it off and get them fit enough to survive in the wild again.

“For it to happen twice in quick succession is inexcusable and unacceptable.”

Wildlife charities are calling for the discharge of PIB into the sea to be banned.

Tony Whitehead added; “It’s of great concern that you can still legally wash PIB residues out of ships’ tanks at sea. We want a complete ban on any discharges of PIB and for ships to be required to remove residues safely at port. This removes the risk of any legal or indeed illegal discharges of this seabird killer.”

Petitions calling for a tightening of the law have a combined total of more than 20,000 signatures so far. Campaigners are urging the Secretary of State for Transport to formally raise the issue with the International Maritime Organisation, the body responsible for the regulation of shipping worldwide.

Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust said; “Urgent action is required to prevent PIB causing further death and destruction within the marine environment through its discharge into the sea. To support a campaign to change the law, we need a picture of how many birds have been affected. The public have been calling our Hotline in droves and our brilliant strandings volunteers have been sending in their reports but, as dead birds may continue to wash up, we need to keep on recording.”

7:02am 3rd May 2013

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