Action on oil spill ‘disaster’ at Horsham Park

One of the park moorhens has died and there are fears for another  SUS-190321-121016001
One of the park moorhens has died and there are fears for another SUS-190321-121016001

Contractors have been employed on a clean-up operation after an oil spill ‘disaster’ at Horsham Park’s pond yesterday.

Horsham District Council says the alert was first sounded following an oil leak from Horsham Hospital in Hurst Road. The pollution is the second to hit the pond within a year.

The council says hospital contractors are now working on a clean-up and the council itself is closely monitoring pollution in the area.

A female swan has been taken to a bird rescue centre but there are fears for a missing male which is said to be ‘badly contaminated’.

A council spokesman said: “As of this morning (March 21), the council can confirm that there has been no loss of life to any wildlife. One swan has been taken to the Swan Rescue Sanctuary at Shepperton to be cleaned.

“The council, together with Southern Water and the Environment Agency, is continuing to monitor the situation closely.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Horsham Park pond is fed by surface water drains. Yesterday Horsham Hospital reported to us that there had been a diesel spill in their grounds.

“Some of this ran into surface water drains which flow into the pond. The Environment Agency and Southern Water responded by placing booms in the pond to stop the oil spreading further.

“The hospital has employed a contractor to clean up, and work will continue over the next few days.”

Sally Sanderson, chairman of the campaign group the Friends of Horsham Park, said: “This second diesel (spill) is such a disaster for the wildlife in Horsham Park pond. The swans had only just returned to nest following last year’s diesel catastrophe. That’s two nesting seasons in a row destroyed by diesel spills.

“The Friends of Horsham Park are so disheartened that no progress has been made since last year to clear up the underlying drainage problem.”

She said there had been an ongoing dispute over what action, if any, could be taken and who would pay for it.

She added: “An irony is that Friends of Horsham Park volunteers have been working for the past three Wednesdays around the pond to improve the habitat for the wildlife as well as to create more attractive sight lines to the pond for visitors. Now we can all see the clean-up operation clearly instead of the swans and ducks.”