Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 13:24 UK

Oil-filled quarry 'disgraceful'


Mike Wilkins reports on how the oil is still having an impact today, more than 40 years on.

Animal campaigners have criticised the States for not taking action over the oil-filled Torrey Canyon quarry.

Campaigner Geoff George said he was saddened by the suffering of the birds which become trapped and the States needed to sort out the "disgrace".

The oil washed ashore in 1967 when the supertanker Torrey Canyon struck a reef and ripped her hull open off Cornwall.

At the time the States decided to put the oil in the quarry on the Chouet headland - where it has remained.

Mr George works for the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which operates the animal shelter in St Andrew.

'Countless birds'

He said in his job he has regularly rescued birds, which have become trapped in the oil when they land in the quarry, but he was often too late and many had to be put down.

He criticised the States for allowing "countless birds to become oiled every year" and said he wanted it to sort out what he calls a "disgrace".

The campaigners have highlighted the cause by publishing pictures of oiled and dead birds on social networking website Facebook.

In a statement the public services department said bioremediation was installed at the Torrey Canyon Quarry in 2008 to treat the oil-contaminated water.

It said: "The process involved the use of a mixture of selectively beneficial micro-organisms and enzymes to break down oil and produce carbon dioxide and water.

"The treatment, which is most effective in the summer, removes oil from the surface of the water and breaks down oil trapped in sediment on the bottom."

It said an extension of the treatment over the next year should finally rid the quarry completely of oil pollution.

Torrey Canyon disaster

The Torrey Canyon struck Pollard's Rock in the Seven Stones reef, between the Cornish mainland and the Scilly Isles, on 18 March 1967.

It was capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil.

After unsuccessful attempts were made to float the ship off the reef the RAF and the Royal Navy bombed it in an attempt to sink it, burn off the slick and reduce the oil spilling from it.

After two days of bombing it broke apart and sank while the oil slick was finally dispersed by the weather.

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