South Devon Seabird Trust to release cleaned birds

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Some seabirds rescued from polluted water off south Devon are likely to be returned to the wild this week after being cleaned, a bird trust has said.

Nearly 3,000 birds have been killed or injured by the chemical polyisobutene (PIB) off the coast this year.

The South Devon Seabird Trust said it was hoping to release many of the 16 it currently had.

It said it was waiting for the best flying conditions to release the birds and give them a chance of survival.

'Heading to colonies'

Jean Bradford, of the trust, said: "Most of the birds are in breeding plumage, which means they should be at their colonies.

"I anticipate they will be heading there as soon as possible."

About 20 species have washed up covered in oil additive PIB on beaches in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset after pollution incidents in February and April.

Species the trust has been cleaning include guillemots.

The pollution was described by the RSPB, RSPCA and local wildlife charities as "one of the worst UK marine pollution incidents".

PIB, a lubricant used to improve engine performance, can be legally discharged when ships wash out their tanks.

Wildlife charities want international action to stop the chemical, which does not break up easily, being discharged into the sea.

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