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Oil spill in the Shannon estuary

On Sunday 10 December the SDWF were informed by Mike Fitzsimmons of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board that on oil spill had occurred at Aughinish Aluminia in the Shannon estuary.

The spill was reported to have occurred at 9:20am where around 14 tonnes of heavy bunker fuel was released into the estuary. SDWF consulted the Shannon Estuary Oil Spill Contingency Plan and attempted to contact Jack O’Sullivan using the phone numbers contained in the plan but there were not valid. Finally we contacted Hugh Conlon to inform the response committee thatthe SDWF were available if required and had a RIB at their disposal.

On Monday 11 December Simon Berrow and Joanne O’Brien of GMIT traveled up river in a 6.0m RIB with 115 Mercury outboard engine, to survey the shore to determine whether any oil was present. The Shannon Foynes Port Company pollution model predicted that oil could have traveled as far west as Clonderlaw Bay. Clonderlaw Bay is an important site for wintering waders and waterfowl and bird numbers present will be quite high at this time of year.

We surveyed the shore from Clonderlaw to Cahircon and saw no evidence of oil on the shore. We could smell oil as we traveled between Glin and Foynes but could see no evidence of oil. Birds observed roosting on the shore included 50 curlew and 200-250 cormorants around Coleman’s Point – the latter would be vulnerable to surface pollutants. One otter was seen along the shore at the west end of Labasheeda Bay.

In summary, there was no evidence of oil ashore between Kilkerrin Point at the mouth of Clonderlaw and Cahircon House. Some species potentially vulnerable to oil pollution were recorded in the area. Contact details of key personnel need to be updated in the Shannon Estuary Oil Spill Contingency Plan.


Special Area of Conservation (SAC)


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The SDWF is supported by the following agencies... Shannon Development Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Marine Institute Clare County Council Kilrush Urban District Counil
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