Members of the public could hold vital clues to last week’s serious oil spill in the village of Mark, near Burnham-On-Sea, where a pollution clean-up operation continued on Monday (February 25th).
The alarm was first raised last Thursday – as reported here on Burnham-On-Sea.com – after thick black oil was discovered in the Mark Yeo, a drainage rhyne connecting the River Axe with the River Brue.
The Environment Agency said on Monday it believes the oil was deliberately dumped into the waterway by an unknown person.
Staff and volunteers from the Secret World Animal Centre and Burnham’s BARB rescue team were quickly at the scene rescuing swans, geese and ducks while Agency officers deployed two anti-pollution booms and absorbents to contain the oil.
While several waterbirds showed clear signs of oil contamination, no dead fish have been found – although the pollution has now affected 2.5 km of watercourse and is expected to take several days to clean up.
On Friday, a third boom was deployed upstream of the village to capture any fresh spills of oil.
And on Monday, Agency officers believe they discovered the source of the pollution after heavy oil staining was found on the western bank of the Mark Yeo.
The oil is thick in consistency suggesting it might be waste oil, said Jim Grundy for the Environment Agency.
“It looks heavier than diesel and may have been deliberately dumped. Fortunately, the booms have prevented the spread of oil downstream and enabled us to contain the pollution.”
“We would especially like to hear from anyone who might have information about this incident. We are continuing our investigation and looking at all possible sources for this pollution that has had a serious impact on the Mark Yeo.”
There is an unconfirmed report that a person was seen pouring waste industrial oil from a barrel into the Mark Yeo along the Pill Road between Mark and Rooks Bridge. Agency officers are following up this important lead and are keen to identify the person concerned.
Meanwhile, the rescued swans, ducks and geese whose feathers were coated in oil are recovering at the Secret World Wildlife Centre where it is understood they are responding well to the treatment.
Anyone with knowledge of this oil spill can call the Environment Agency’s free 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.