Oil spill in Rotterdam port; hundreds of swans in trouble

Hundreds of swans covered in oil after a spill in the Derde Petroleum port in Rotterdam, 24 June 2018
Hundreds of swans covered in oil after a spill in the Derde Petroleum port in Rotterdam, 24 June 2018Photo: @POL_Feijenoord / Twitter

Hundreds of oil covered swans were captured out of the water at Maassluis and taken to a bird shelter on Sunday, following an oil spill in the Derde Petroleum port in Rotterdam on Saturday. Around 15 animal ambulances and several boats from the fire brigade helped to capture the animals. There is great concern that several swans will not survive, RTL Nieuws reports.

A bulk tanker crashed into a jetty on Saturday afternoon. The tanker's hull was punctured and around 200 tons of fuel oil spilled into the water. No one was injured. The clean up in the Derde Petroleum port will take several days, a spokesperson for the local safety office Veiligheidsregio Rotterdam-Rijnmond said to the broadcaster. "It is a conservative estimate, but all scaffolding and ships there must first be cleaned."

At least 800 water birds were taken to bird sanctuary Foundation Vogelklas Karel Schot in Maassluis on Sunday. "It's a madhouse here", employee Andre de Baerdemaker said to RTL. He could not say how many birds the sanctuary took in. "They come in with dozens at a time."

The cleaning of the birds will not start immediately. "These animals have been through a lot. They've been smeared, caught and transported. When they come in here, they are extremely stressed." The sanctuary's first goal is to stabilize the birds and get them calmed down. "The birds get fluids to regain strength an they walk on a moisture absorbing surface. That absorbs the oil a bit."

According to De Baerdemaker, oil can quickly cause a swan to deteriorate. "They have watertight plumage, but oil leaks through it. This causes them to get wet and hypothermic and they lose energy. Then they can't collect enough food." The sanctuary workers are therefore keeping a close eye on each swan's condition. "The promising swans go before the swans in the worst condition. If you do not make this selection, you have the chance that you will only lose more swans."

Public works department Rijkswaterstaat announced that an extra temporary shelter will be opened in the parking lot of Maeslandkering at Hoek van Holland on Monday. "It is very crowded and a lot has to be arranged. Vogelklas can also not do everything alone", a spokesperson said to RTL.