Westmeath County Council confirmed it is aware of the oil pollution in a tributary of the River Shannon near Athlone and have deployed a boom in the affected area on Saturday. This is a floating barrier put on the surface of water to temporarily contain spills.
“Westmeath County Council is currently investigating the matter further, and has technical personnel on site to try and confirm the source of the pollution, and determine the next steps,” the council said in a statement. “We have had technical staff on site endeavouring to identity the precise source of the oil pollution.”
Oil retention barriers are in place. The council said it is “clear” that the oil has since escaped from the tributary and into the main channel of the Shannon. “We will be taking measures to commence the clean up as soon as practically possible,” a statement said.
The council said the source of the contamination is downstream of the water treatment facility in Athlone. The wastewater treatment facility in Athlone was part of a number of facilities ruled by the European Court of Justice for breaching EU rules on sewage treatment earlier this year.
Birds left ‘caked’ in oil
The oil spill has left local wildlife including a family of swans ‘caked’ in oil. Birds were found covered in oil near the Al River in an area known as the Big Meadow. The source of the spill has yet to be confirmed. “One of the cygnets was in a very bad state – his whole body was black,” said welfare officer with the Athlone Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Billy Gallagher.
Two adult swans and three cygnets (young swans) were found covered in oil near the spill by locals on Saturday, he said. The family of swans have survived the cleanup and have now been moved to the Kildare Animal Foundation to recover.
Source – journal.ie