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Swans rescued from apparent pollution in Balbriggan Harbour


Swan feeding in polluted water at Balbriggan Harbour

Swan feeding in polluted water at Balbriggan Harbour

Oil clearly visible in the water at Balbriggan Harbour

Oil clearly visible in the water at Balbriggan Harbour


Swan feeding in polluted water at Balbriggan Harbour


Two swans had to be rescued from Balbriggan Harbour following a suspected pollution incident, it has been claimed.

Volunteers from the Oiled Wildlife Response Network (OWRN) and Kildare Wildlife Rescue (KWR) reported they had recently lifted a male swan from the water.

OWRN is part of a European network dedicated to improving wildlife response capabilities and act as first responders following an oil spill.

Pauline Beades, training and event coordinator with OWRN, said the swan was “badly oiled from a slick that was visibly covering the water”.

She said the Irish Coast Guard and Fingal County Council had been informed of the pollution of the harbour.

However, when volunteers returned to Balbriggan last week to release the rehabilitated swan, Ms Beades claimed the water was still oiled and his mate was now contaminated.

“Their second clutch of cygnets have disappeared, possibly due to the toxic effects of the oil,” she said. “This oil is not just affecting swans – other birds are being exposed and the smell of the fumes is both unpleasant and dangerous.

“KWR have invested time and money in the care of this swan and volunteers have used their resources to collect it and return it to Balbriggan. It’s time that those who care for their communities and wildlife are paid a bit more respect and responded to when a problem is highlighted.”

Ms Beades added that KWR is now faced with having to care for both swans until the harbour is cleaned up.

“Who will pay for that?” she asked.

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OWRN claimed oil had been “an ongoing problem” in the harbour and accused Fingal County Council of putting the clean-up “on the long finger”.

Fingal County Council said its water pollution officer was informed about “a possible incident” in Balbriggan and subsequently went on site to carry out an inspection.

A spokesperson said: “While there was a slight oil sheen on the water of the harbour, it was not possible to identify the source of any such oil.

“Similarly, it was not possible for the officer to determine whether there was more significant oil pollution at the harbour prior to their site visit. As such, it was not possible for them to follow up further.”