Oil culprits likely to slip away

Maltese miniature poodle cross puppy Rupert became covered in oil on his first ever walk on the beach in Scarborough's South Bay.
Maltese miniature poodle cross puppy Rupert became covered in oil on his first ever walk on the beach in Scarborough's South Bay.

The rogue vessel responsible for last week’s oil spill is now unlikely to be traced after the substance was identified as a common fuel used by ships all over the world.

A probe into the disaster, which blighted Scarborough’s beaches and killed sea birds, has now been called off after environmental experts claimed chances of identifying the culprit were remote.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency collected and tested samples of the substance to try and determine the source after swathes of oil rolled in on waves driven by strong easterly winds.

After the results came back from the lab this week, agency spokesman Fred Caygill said: “At this stage it’s highly unlikely that any new information will come to our attention. The matter is now closed.”

The news comes after the wider effects of the spill started to emerge.

A 12-week-old puppy had to be scrubbed for more than an hour after becoming smothered in the sticky tar on his first ever walk.

Maltese minature poodle cross Rupert was bounding along the beach in South Bay on Mother’s Day, when his owner, Mandy Dixon, noticed her white fluffy dog had turned black.

Mrs Dixon, 45, of Seamer, said: “The oil was glistening as it was a sunny day. I first thought it was jelly fish but when I got closer it looked like tar. I looked around and it was just everywhere.

“As we were going back up the cliffs, I noticed he was black. It was in between his paws, it was everywhere.

“I looked up how to remove it online and it took a whole bottle of baby oil and WD40 to get it off. It took well over an hour and my bath was black.

“He had just had his last injections and I thought I would take him to the beach for his first walk. Poor Rupert, it was horrendous. I‘ve lived in Scarborough for 45 years and never known this problem. “

At least 20 birds are now known to have died after becoming caught up in the oil slick which affected a 15-mile stretch of coastline, including South Bay, Cornelian Bay, Cayton Bay and Filey.

A crisis team, led by Scarborough Council, was established quickly to lead the clean-up operation in a desperate attempt to limit the devastation caused to local habitats and species by the pollution.

Scarborough Sea Life Centre’s casualties have included a bridled guillimot, who suffered severely clogged feathers and had swallowed some of the oil, and three grey five-month-old seals.

Male seals Slick and Chunk were rescued from South Bay and Primrose Valley, while an exhausted female seal, Thelma, was washed up on Filey Brigg. They have been cleaned up in the sanctuary’s seal hospital and have been tube-fed a special charcoal solution to absorb any oil they may have ingested.

Warning signs that were put up on the shore to raise awareness of the spill have now been taken down.