Birds living on refuse from Britains teeming shores

Through stringent regulations, the European Union is making sure that Britain cleans the urban waste water that flows into the seas surrounding the island nation. So the largest raw sewage sludge drying plant in the world is located near the Northumberland industrial town of Middlesbrough.

Every day it squeezes 250,000 tons of sewage down to just 75 tons of "bio-pellets" which are used for fertilizer or as fuel – the remaining clean water being released into the ocean.

But ornithologists fear the process is harming local bird populations.

  • It seems shorebirds feed on molluscs and worms – that for years have thrived on the tons of raw sewage that flowed daily into coastal waters.

  • Now the cleaner water is reducing the mollusc and worm populations – and sandpipers and other birds may wind up the starving victims.

  • The British Trust for Ornithology is studying the question around the country – and early results suggest that lots of waterfowl are indeed living off pollution.

  • It is feared that some of Europe's endangered bird species – such as the roseate tern – will not survive.

    Source: No Foul Water, No Waterfowl, Economist, August 25, 2001.

    For text Endangered Species Act

    FMF\4 September 2001
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