BY JACKIE KEOGH
ANIMAL lovers in West Cork have been told to take care after contaminated oil was found on a beach in Union Hall.
Local woman, Laura Collins was out walking with her children, Michael, Cain, Evan and Katie, when they picked up a strange looking object on the beach. ‘When I saw it my first instinct was to tell them to stay away from it because it was quite smelly,’ said Laura.
‘But kids being kids they had already been messing around with it and hacked it with a stone. I could tell from the way it was breaking up – like wax – that it was something I had never seen before.’
Laura was aware that a kid in England had found whale vomit (ambergris) – which is widely used in making perfume – and had sold it for £60,000.
So she brought it home to show her husband, Tom, who runs Sea Angling Charters. But he knew straight away that it was not whale vomit, but palm oil.
‘I’d never be that lucky,’ said Laura, who added her four children were disappointed because ‘they had already planned a trip to Florida with the proceeds’!
The problem with palm oil – which has been washing up on beaches off the coast of England since October – is that it is highly toxic to animals and they are drawn by the smell.
It is thought that the palm oil was dumped off a ship after it had become contaminated by diesel and Laura confirmed that the object – which was found on Sunday, February 28th – did indeed smell of diesel.
On the day, Laura said: ‘There was a dog around it at the time, but we shooed it away. I have since found out that there have been both dog and bird deaths linked to the ingestion of this contaminated oil in the UK.’
Laura said her husband has taken it upon himself to bring the object to the County Council to find out how to dispose of the contaminated palm oil in a responsible manner.