More than 150 swans have been rescued from the River Thames in Berkshire following a mystery oil spill.
Volunteers worked through the weekend to clean the birds, some of which had been covered up to their necks. The Environment Agency suspects it was caused by oil illegally dumped into drains. Heather Edwards reports.
The Environment Agency received reports on Friday night from members of the public that oil was seen on the River Thames near Eton Bridge in Windsor.
We immediately contacted Thames Water who attended the site over night to help identify and isolate any potential source of the pollution.
Environment Agency Officers have been on site working with Thames Water contractors and have found that oil coming into the River Thames has stopped with no oil coming from any of the surface outfalls or other potential sources. Most of the oil has now dispersed.
Although swans have been affected by the oil floating on the surface, high dilution of the River Thames has minimised the impacts of the pollution. In order to minimise the possibility of oil entering the Thames we will be carrying out riverside checks and will continue to monitor the situation.
A spokesman said: "We are still investigating the source of the oil and therefore we cannot confirm where it originated. However, owing to the nature of the incident and the fact that the oil dispersed fairly quickly it is likely to have been illegally disposed down a surface water drain.
"Members of the public can report pollution incidents to us via our free Incident Hotline on 0800 807060.
"Overall water quality has improved over past two decades so when pollution incidents like this occur we take them very seriously.”
A spokesperson from the Environment Agency has said all the swans hit by a mysterious oil spill along the River Thames in Berkshire have been removed from the water. More than eighty of the birds are being cared for at a rescue centre.
The birds affected bords were found in the area between Windsor Bridge and Eton Bridge, and recovered on Friday and Saturday.
Environment Agency investigators are still trying to find the source of the oil, with possible causes ranging from flytipping, leakage from boats or tanks, to faulty drainage systems. However there are only small pockets of the substance left in the water, which makes it harder to detect the origin.
It is hoped that it will be possible to release the swans back into the River Thames in the next few days.
Eighty swans have had to be rescued from the River Thames in Berkshire following a mysterious oil spill. It happened on a stretch of the river between Windsor Bridge and Eton Bridge. The birds are being treated and cleaned by a swan rescue charity. Nick Thatcher sent this report.
Eighty swans have been removed from the River Thames due to a mystery oil spill which is baffling authorities. Thames Water was called out at 10:30pm last night to the stretch of river between Windsor Bridge and Eton Bridge.
The Environment Agency, with assistance from Thames Water, is investigating the source of the spillage but said it is 'quite unlikely' they will find the source due to most of the oil having dispersed leaving just isolated pockets.
Bob Lang, a volunteer at the charity Swan Lifeline, said: 'I've seen it before but nothing like this. I've been coming for about 20 years.' Around 20 volunteers have been working to remove the swans from the river and so far about 80 of them have been lifted off - with more work to do, Mr Lang said.
The Environment Agency is looking for volunteer lock keepers to help keep Britain's busiest river - the River Thames - running smoothly.
Working alongside professional lock and weir keepers, volunteers will have the opportunity to spend their days outdoors, meeting the public, helping boats navigate the locks and gaining real hands-on experience in operating the locks along the iconic River Thames.
This will be the third year we have invited volunteers to help us manage and operate our locks along the Thames. We had a successful summer last year - in spite of the weather - and hope to build on that this year.
People don't have to live right next to the River Thames to volunteer with us; we want people who live in the wider community to get more involved too. As well as helping boats to pass through the lock, volunteers can use what they know about the Thames and its surroundings to help us to inform visitors about everything it has to offer."
– Andrew Graham, Environment Agency
On-the-job training will be provided for all successful candidates, as well as some branded uniform. The Environment Agency will also provide the best opportunities for volunteers to increase their knowledge of the River Thames while building on their passion for the environment.
I volunteer at the lock one day a week and I really enjoy the variety of things that go on. You meet lots of different people, from all walks of life and learn a lot about what it takes to keep the river working. I would recommend the role to anyone; it gets you outside, it's interesting and it's good exercise."
– Peter Mainprize, who's been volunteering at Caversham lock in Reading since 2010
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service isurging people not to swim in inland waters such as rivers, canals and lakes after three people were rescued from the River Thames in Windsor during the early hours of this morning.
Jess James, Station Manager at Caversham explains:
“It’s important to be aware that while the surface of the water may feel fairly warm, the rest of it is still very cold. This can make your muscles tire out very quickly and can cause cold shock. Drinking alcohol can make things even worse.
“It’s difficult to judge the depth of the water - jumping or diving can cause serious injuries or even death.
“ Discarded shopping trolleys and rubbish such as broken glass are a real hazard, as are unseen currents and reeds, which can affect even the strongest swimmers."