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Wildlife groups: Chemical killing seabirds in southwest England

April 23, 2013 at 2:22 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, April 23 (UPI) -- Hundreds of seabirds have been killed on the Dorset coast in southwest England by a chemical released by ships, wildlife groups say.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said in a statement it has joined two other groups in a letter to Stephen Hammond, a member of Parliament and official in the Transportation Ministry, urging him to lead an effort to ban polyisobutene or PIB. The chemical coats birds' plumage and prevents them from feeding, causing them to starve.

The RSPB said ships have been given permits to release PIB based on tests done in laboratories and not under what happens when the chemical gets into seawater.

"Dead and dying seabirds may be the most visible victims of our mismanagement," said Joan Edwards, head of Living Oceans for the Wildlife Trust. "Impacts on other parts of marine life support systems may be just as widespread, and more serious. Firm controls must be implemented to minimize future disasters such as this and which allow deliberate offenders to be held to account."

The Bournemouth Echo said more than 1,000 dead birds have been found on beaches along the southern coast in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, including razorbills, guillemots and puffins.

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