Family of 4 swans moved after major sewage leak

Volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) have been working hard all day today (15 October) checking over 7 miles of streams, ponds and dykes in the Shinewater, Hampden Park area of Eastbourne after a major sewage leak.

One family of four swans, mum, dad and two cygnets had to be moved from a dyke affected by the sewage. A team of four rescuers caught the family and moved them to safety.

Trevor Weeks who co-ordinated the rescue efforts today said "This is the second spill like this here, the last one being about 2003 where we had to catch 8 swans affected. Last time two of them died as a result."

WRAS has praised the Environment Agency for their quick actions and efforts to stop the pollution from gaining access into the main lakes where more swans and waterfowl would be affected.

"I am pleased with the actions of the Environment Agency and we have advised them of section of streams which need protecting to prevent cygnets from being harmed. As swans are filter feeders sticking their heads and necks deep into the water and silt they take in more polluted water as a result. Also swans are territorial so duck and other waterfowl will move on but swans with cygnets won't as they will not want to enter the neighbouring swan's territory so quite often will stay put in the affected area. Cygnets will not be as strong as their parents and be more susceptible to illnesses. Its not just the swans and fish which are affected, as badgers, foxes and other mammals which use the streams as drinking water will also be affected, also the small invertebrates and insects at the base of the food chain will be seriously affected too" added Trevor.

WRAS has been working closely with the Environment Agency staff on site and will be monitoring the waterfowl in the area throughout the duration of the incident.

"This is a horrendous incident and I hope whoever is responsible for this environmental disaster is held accountable." said Trevor.

» BBC news link

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, Director, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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